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A maritime injury is an injury that occurs when a "seaman" is injured on the water while working for their employer. There are several categories of individuals who may be injured at sea or in a maritime setting that qualify for workers’ compensation. These include:
- Seamen and fishermen
- Longshoremen or harbor workers
Seamen and Fishermen
A seaman is defined as someone who works a majority of his or her time on a vessel or doing work for a vessel. Seamen can be fishermen, merchant mariners, ferry workers or deckhands and cooks. Even a musician and waiter on a passenger vessel could be classified as a seaman.
Longshoremen and Harbor Workers
A longshoreman is a worker who works on or near the water. This person is responsible for loading, unloading and tying a vessel. A harbor worker is an employee who repairs, converts, breaks apart and/or builds a vessel.
If a shipowner’s negligence caused your injury, you may be able to sue the ship owner for damages.
Any paying passengers who were injured on a boat or cruise ship may sue the boat owner for personal injures suffered while on board. Passengers typically have a year to file this claim. You may be required to give the boat owner notice of your injury with in a specified time. So it is important to consult an attorney if you are a passenger who has been hurt at sea.
Instead of being a state workers’ compensation claim, a maritime injury is typically covered by the Jones Act. The Jones Act was officially called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It was developed and passed in response to the health and safety concerns of the Merchant Marine, and to establish protections for sailors.
Before the Jones Act was passed, sailors and boatmen who were hurt on the job had few choices if they were injured at sea or preparing for sea. After identifying the innate danger of working at sea and the value of qualified seamen, the Jones Act was created to give these hard workers benefits in the event of an injury or illness.
To establish a maritime injury claim, seamen must prove that a negligent action or an "unseaworthy" activity occurred on board of the vessel that resulted in the injury. Some examples of negligence include:
- Failure to provide safe equipment or proper vessel maintenance
- Working in severe weather
- Failure to follow the safety rules or to provide a safe work environment
- Requiring seaman to work long, excessive hours
- Failure to hire a competent captain or crew
- Failure to provide appropriate equipment or guards on the machinery
- Not providing prompt or sufficient medical treatment
- Failure to provide appropriate gear, or properly train the crew
If the vessel or equipment is defective or in some way unfit, this can be considered “unseaworthiness.” Some examples include:
- Faulty equipment
- Insufficient crew
- Broken planks or deck boards;
- Fluid or oil on deck that makes it slippery
- Deck obstructions or tripping hazards
- Defective tools
- The absence of proper lifesaving equipment
Protect Your Rights
If you or a loved one was hurt at sea or preparing a vessel for sea, you may not know how to get the compensation you deserve. Please schedule a maritime injury consultation with an attorney at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter by calling (407) 712-7300 or filling out the form on this page. Our persistence and experience will get you the money you deserve.