When an accident on the water results in harm or a death, a maritime injury lawyer can help the victim receive compensation for their suffering. Companies that operate oceangoing vessels must adhere to a set of regulations that ensure worker safety and ship integrity. These regulations are strict, and a company in violation is not usually able to avoid responsibility for the damage. However, this area of law is extremely complex, because proper jurisdiction is often difficult to determine during these cases. Also, a victim must be considered a “seaman” using certain definitions before they are able to file suit.
A maritime injury lawyer is an expert in determining proper jurisdiction following an accident. This is usually relevant when the incident occurs on a foreign vessel or in international waters. When this is the case, the victim can only sue the offending company if their home country has legislation that allows for it. If a foreign national is involved in an accident on a U.S. vessel, they may only sue the company if their home country allows for similar suits. This is often a complicated process and difficult to figure out without professional assistance. When this occurs, the attorney will investigate the incident and decide if a suit is a viable option for the victim.
The victim must also be considered a seaman before they can file a suit, in most cases. Maritime Law, also known as the Jones Act , asserts that ship owners must compensate their seamen for some living expenses and medical care if they are hurt while on the job for the ship owner. The basic rule for determining whether a worker is a seaman or not was created during Chandris Inc. et al. v. Latsis. During this case, the court determined that a worker who logs more than 30 percent of their working hours on an operating vessel is considered a seaman under the Jones Act. However, there are exceptions, but a maritime injury lawyer can help a worker determine whether they qualify for the Jones Act if it is not apparent.
Most of the regulations concerning oceangoing vessels are spelled out in the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This act requires vessel owners to inspect and maintain their ship using certain procedures. Ship owners must submit their vessels for regular inspection and comply with any maintenance the inspector calls for. Ship owners must also man their vessels properly using crew that is trained for the job. The ship must also be equipped and supplied for the job. Any owner that does not follow these procedures is acting in negligence. A maritime injury lawyer can help a victim determine if an employer was acting in negligence at the time of the accident.
Victims must file suit before the statute of limitations expires. This is normally three years following the date of the incident. If the victim is a minor or mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations may be different. If the suit will be filed against a federal vessel, the statute of limitations is only two years.
However, even if the statute of limitations is expired, a victim should consider speaking to a maritime injury lawyer about their accident. There may be an exception that the victim qualifies for.