You have rights if you work in the maritime industry, whether as a seaman, as a longshoreman, or on offshore rigs and platforms on the outer continental shelf. You have rights under maritime law to receive compensation if an on-the-job accident leaves you injured. If an employer or insurer doesn’t pay what they owe you, you may need to file a maritime lawsuit.
When to File a Lawsuit
When you get injured on the job, there are expenses to be paid, not least of which may be your lost wages if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, plus mounting medical bills.
Get Matched with a Leading Maritime Attorney in Your Area
- Find the leading maritime lawyers in your area
- Discover how to get compensation as fast as possible
- Learn your legal rights as an injured maritime worker
If you have been injured and your employer won’t compensate you or is not compensating you adequately, you may be in a position to file a lawsuit under federal maritime law.
Several laws cover different kinds of maritime workers, and where and how you work in the industry determines which one protects your rights. Any time you are injured at work and believe you are not adequately compensated, you can file a lawsuit.
Three main maritime laws cover different types of maritime workers:
The Jones Act
This law, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, covers seamen, and to file a lawsuit under this law, you must qualify as this kind of maritime worker according to the definition.
The requirements for being defined as a seaman under this law include spending at least 30 percent of your working time aboard a vessel on navigable waters. This includes ships at the dock or in port. You also must have been injured while doing work that contributed to the maritime work of the vessel.
The Jones Act is designed to ensure you get compensation if your employer is negligent in causing the accident that injured you.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
This law covers many maritime workers who do not qualify under the Jones Act. It was drafted precisely for this reason. Harbor workers face dangers too, and were left out of the benefits of the Jones Act.
If you work in a harbor setting, this law provides a federal workers’ compensation program, similar to state programs. You do not have to prove any negligence to qualify under this law.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
Finally, maritime law had to be extended to cover another group of workers left out of the above two laws. Workers aboard oil rigs and platforms and other permanent structures on the continental shelf regions of the oceans do not qualify as seamen under the Jones Act.
For this reason, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act was drafted to provide a workers’ compensation program for these workers.
If you have been injured on the job in any of the above categories, you can file maritime lawsuits to get the compensation you need. Other maritime laws may apply in your case.
If you aren’t sure where you qualify or which law will be right for you to file a claim or start a lawsuit, an experienced attorney can guide you and help you get the case started.
Why File a Maritime Lawsuit?
There are many reasons to file a lawsuit when injured on the job. The main reason is that you don’t believe you are getting the compensation you are owed.
For instance, if you work aboard a ship and you were injured when a piece of equipment malfunctioned, you may be able to prove that your employer neglected to have the equipment repaired.
If that negligence contributed to your injury, you might be able to file a successful lawsuit under the Jones Act to get the compensation your employer is trying to dodge paying out to you.
Under the broad category of being denied your rights, there are many specific reasons for filing a lawsuit:
- Being denied a right to maintenance and cure
- Suffering an injury because you or someone else working with you was not trained adequately
- Being assaulted by a fellow worker
- Being struck by cargo that was improperly stored
- Being denied survivor benefits if you lost a loved one to an accident while doing a maritime job
Generally, you can start a lawsuit if you believe you are owed compensation under the law and aren’t getting it.
What You Need to File a Lawsuit
Any time you are injured on the job, you need to do a couple of things to ensure you can prove your right to get compensation.
The first is to file an accident report as soon as possible. This is the responsibility of your superior, but you need to ensure it gets done and includes as much detail as possible from any witnesses. This will help detail your case and demonstrate that others saw what happened.
You also need to get immediate medical treatment and record that treatment. This also proves that your injuries were real and caused by the accident.
Both steps are essential in proving that you were injured on the job and proving negligence, if any, was involved in the accident. You may not have much of a case if you can’t provide them in a lawsuit.
Doing these things quickly is also crucial, as time limits and restrictions may exist. Getting them done promptly is essential to ensure that witnesses are reliable and give you all the details necessary for the accident report.
The main reason to file a lawsuit when you’re injured on the job is to get compensatory damages or money to cover the costs that arose from the injury.
However, a maritime lawsuit may also result in punitive damages meant to punish the responsible party. Whether or not these damages will be applied in your lawsuit depends on the jurisdiction and the judge overseeing your case.
Finding a Maritime Lawyer
Filing maritime lawsuits is complicated and can be costly too. If you make mistakes, you could be wasting time and money and never get the compensation you are owed.
A lawyer who has filed similar lawsuits before can help you determine which law you qualify for, file a claim, and start the process of a lawsuit if necessary.
Only with such professional guidance can you be sure you will maximize the compensation you receive and avoid making crucial procedural mistakes.
When looking for a lawyer to file your suit, make sure you work with a maritime lawyer, someone experienced and well-versed in maritime law.
You should also select a lawyer with a good track record, someone who has helped clients in the past win the compensation they deserved. With this professional there to help you file and fight for your rights, you will have the best chance of getting money to help you get back on your feet and back to work.