Practicing maritime law requires specialized study. If you have been injured on the job in the maritime industry, you need a professional maritime lawyer to help guide you through making claims, filing paperwork, settling arbitration, and even going to court if necessary. Their expertise and experience mean 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 must turn to a personal injury lawyer, a workers’ compensation lawyer, or any lawyer who can help you.
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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 highly complex area of law.
Several laws comprise maritime law. Determining 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 them:
- 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
Determining Which Law Applies
The first hurdle you must overcome when seeking compensation for your maritime injury is simply figuring out which of the many laws apply to you.
It may be that more than one law applies, in which case, a lawyer can help you determine if you can file claims through both or if you have to choose which one will get you the most compensation.
For example, if you are the loved one of a worker who died in an accident, you are entitled to benefits, but deciding which law will provide those benefits may not be straightforward.
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 plenty of laws, like maintenance and cure and the LHWCA, 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 to represent you.
Examples of negligence in maritime accidents include those caused by:
- Malfunctioning equipment or poorly maintained equipment
- Lack of training
- Lack of proper safety gear
- Broken or cluttered ladders, stairs, and walkways
- Cargo that wasn’t stored properly
- Spills that cause the deck to become slippery
- Physical assaults
Your employer is most likely negligent in your accident if it could have been prevented by some action that is the employer’s responsibility.
Maritime Lawyers Help Injured Workers Get Compensation
If you are a seaman, maintenance and cure, entitles you to money to cover medical and living expenses until you can return to work, whether or not negligence was involved.
In negligence cases, you may be entitled to money for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
With an experienced maritime lawyer on your side, you have a better chance of getting all the compensation you are entitled to.
If your accident and position at work entitle 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, you can fight for your benefits for lost wages, medical expenses, and more if it happens on the job.
Finding a Maritime Lawyer
When it comes time to find a maritime lawyer to represent you, work with someone who is truly experienced and knowledgeable about maritime law. Lawyers specializing in this field are highly educated regarding the law, but some may be better than others.
Do your research and look for a lawyer with a good reputation and track record when it comes to winning client benefits.
Make sure you find a lawyer who knows the law and has the 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
If you are injured on the job, the most important thing to do 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, they 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 can decide how to proceed. Your lawyer will also determine 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 decide whether your case can be settled in arbitration or needs to go to trial.
With a maritime lawyer to guide and represent you, you can rest assured that you stand the best chance of getting the maximum compensation you deserve for your accident and injury.