To work in the maritime industry means taking risks every day. Most jobs on ships, in harbors, and on offshore platforms involve hazards and risks. Workers in these jobs get injured and sometimes killed, but maritime laws are in place to ensure they get compensation to make up for those injuries and fatalities. Injured workers can get money to cover the cost of medical expenses and lost wages, while dependent survivors are entitled to the money that will help pay for funeral and other costs.
Maritime law is not an easy system of laws to navigate. It requires specialized study, which is why if you have been injured on the job, you need a professional maritime lawyer to help guide you through making claims, filing paperwork, settling arbitrations, and even going to court if necessary. The years of studying and experience working on maritime cases means that these professionals can guide you and get you the money you deserve.
Specializing in Maritime Law
If you are injured on the job you might think you need to turn to a personal injury lawyer, a workers’ compensation lawyer, or that any lawyer will be able to help you. The truth is that maritime law is a highly specialized area of law. You cannot rely on just any lawyer, no matter how skilled or experienced, to help you make your case or to represent you. A lawyer who has studied and worked in maritime law has specialized knowledge in this very complicated area of the law.
There are several different laws that comprise maritime law, and being able to figure out which one applies to you and how to use it to your advantage is complex. Only a lawyer experienced in these laws will be able to guide you through the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), maintenance and cure, the doctrine of unseaworthiness, and any other law that might apply in your situation.
Determining Which Law Applies
The first hurdle you have to get over when seeking compensation for your maritime injury is simply figuring out which of the many laws applies to you. It may be that more than one law applies, in which case, a lawyer can help you figure out if you can file claims through both or if you have to choose and which one will get you the most compensation.
For example, if you are the loved one of a worker who died in an accident on the job, you are entitled to benefits, but it may not be straightforward to decide which law will provide those benefits. If your loved one qualified as a seaman, the Jones Act applies, but if he died out at sea, the DOHSA may also apply to your situation. If you are a seaman injured on the job, you may want to make sure you get benefits through maintenance and cure, but if you think that negligence played a role in your accident, the Jones Act may be able to provide you with greater benefits.
Maritime Negligence Lawsuits
Some of the most complex cases that involve maritime law are also the most common: those involving negligence. There are true accidents that can occur on ships or in harbors, and there are plenty of laws, like maintenance and cure and the LHWCA, that can provide compensation if no one can be blamed for an accident. On the other hand, in most cases, an accident is preventable, which means that someone was negligent.
In the case of negligence for a seaman’s accident and injury, the Jones Act provides a way to sue the employer for damages. Filing a claim under the Jones Act is time sensitive and can be confusing and complicated, which is how an experienced lawyer can help you. A lawyer can also help you if your employer and their insurance company decide to fight your claim. You may need to try to settle your claim through arbitration, or even through a court trial. Either way, you will want an experienced lawyer on your side, representing you.
Examples of negligence in maritime accidents include those caused by malfunctioning equipment or poorly maintained equipment, accidents caused by a lack of training or a lack of proper safety gear, broken or cluttered ladders and stairs, cargo that wasn’t stored properly, spills that cause the deck to become slippery, and physical assaults just to name a few. Your employer is most likely negligent in your accident if it could have been prevented by some action that is the employer’s responsibility.
Compensation a Lawyer Can Help You Get
With a good maritime lawyer on your side, you have a better chance of getting all the compensation to which you are entitled. If you are a seaman, maintenance and cure entitles you to money to cover medical and living expenses until you can come back to work, whether or not negligence was involved. In negligent cases, you may be entitled to money for medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other costs.
If your accident and position at work entitles you to compensation through the LHWCA or OCSLA, your lawyer can help you get similar benefits, regardless of negligence. These laws act more like workers’ compensation, so regardless of the cause of your injury, if it happened on the job, you can fight for your benefits for lost wages, medical expenses, and more.
Finding a Lawyer
When it comes time to find a maritime lawyer to represent you, take care to work with someone who is truly experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to maritime law. Lawyers specializing in this field are highly educated with regards to the law, but some may be better than others. Do your research and look for a lawyer with a good reputation and a good track record when it comes to winning benefits for clients. Make sure you find a lawyer who really knows the law and has experience, not just a lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation or personal injury and claims to know something about maritime law.
Working with a Maritime Lawyer
The most important thing to do if you are injured on the job is to find a lawyer with maritime law experience. You don’t want to try to fight this battle alone. Success in maritime cases requires experience and specialized knowledge. Once you have that lawyer to work with, he or she will want to see that you have filed an accident report regarding the incident that caused your injury and a medical report detailing the treatment you received after the accident.
With this information and anything else you can provide your lawyer will be able to decide how to proceed. Your lawyer will also decide which laws to use to make your claim. With the expertise of your lawyer, you will be able to ensure that your claim is filed before statutes of limitation run out and you have no options left. This professional will also help you avoid many other mistakes and will decide whether your case can be settled in arbitration or whether it needs to go to trial. With a maritime lawyer there to guide and represent you, you can rest assured that you stand the best chance of getting the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your accident and injury.