A maritime injury claim is one of the most complex suits a person can file because it is not subject to the same laws that govern most damage suits. The Jones Act outlines the regulations that seamen and vessel owners must follow when a person is harmed while on the job. Attorneys that oversee these cases need to be familiar with the special rules that guide them. Without this knowledge, a victim’s suit may be put in danger or dismissed outright.
The primary difference between a standard suit and a maritime injury claim is that qualified seamen may have their cases reviewed by a jury of peers. Normally, when a person is harmed and seeks compensation in court, they must convince a judge only. Having a trial that involves a jury changes the dynamic of the case greatly. The attorney has to approach these suits in a similar fashion to a criminal court case, which is also set up using judge and jury.
If a person is harmed on the job, they may be able to file a maritime injury claim against their employer if they believe negligence may be responsible for the damages. To do this through the Jones Act and receive a trial by jury, the worker must be a qualified seaman. A simple rule of thumb to determine this is any worker who spends at least 30 percent of their time on a navigating vessel qualifies. Some employers may dispute the victim’s working status, but an attorney can help make sure that the victim’s true work history is used to determine qualifying status.
Seamen are faced with occupation hazards constantly. Some minor incidents are expected during a seaman’s career. However, if a seaman is harmed because the vessel owner was negligent in their duties to the ship and crew, the victim can consider filing a maritime injury claim with the help of an attorney. Vessel owners are responsible for maintaining the ship and keeping it properly staffed. If the owner is not subjecting the vessel to regular inspections, they may be in violation of federal regulations. If the incident is due to poor maintenance or crew staffing, an attorney can help the victim organize a suit against the owner.
A lawyer will put together a demand package that contains the projected worth of a person’s damages and details relevant to the case. This is sent to the defendant. The lawyer and defendant negotiate a settlement and if a favorable outcome can be reached, both sides will settle. If the defendant is reluctant to pay a fair settlement, the victim and the victim’s attorney will file a lawsuit and argue the case in court. A skilled and experienced lawyer will be prepared for this and have the victim ready to go as soon as the trial begins.