Working on or near water puts you at risk for a variety of severe injuries and possibly even death. This is why laws were passed to provide compensation for maritime workers who are injured on the job.
However, these laws can be confusing, making it difficult to obtain all of the compensation you deserve. That is why you should seriously consider working with a Stuart maritime lawyer after suffering an injury on or near the water.
The trusted attorneys at Gordon & Doner have detailed knowledge of maritime laws and are prepared to work with you throughout the entire legal process. We understand how valuable compensation can be for helping you recover from your personal injury and deal with the other damages you have suffered. If we take your case, we will do so on contingency, so your initial consultation is free of charge and we do not charge legal fees unless you receive compensation.
Schedule your free legal consultation with a Stuart maritime lawyer. Call 1 (855) 722-2552.
Cases We Handle
Our firm is prepared to pursue compensation for workers who suffer injuries on the following types of vessels or structures:
- Charter boats
- Floating cranes
- Cargo ships
- Cruise ships
- Offshore oil rigs
- Commercial fishing vessels
- Drill ships
Maritime laws cover injuries that happen when these vessels are in navigable waters, which could include any of the following:
- Harbors right next to bodies of water
Contact our Stuart maritime attorneys by completing our Free Case Evaluation form.
What Causes Maritime Injuries?
There are a variety of reasons why people suffer injuries while working on or near navigable water. They often involve the negligence of co-workers, supervisors or manufacturers of equipment on the boats.
Common examples of negligence that often lead to maritime injuries include:
- Not cleaning up oil on the deck of a ship, leading to a slip and fall injury
- Neglecting to follow safety procedures designed to prevent injuries
- Poor or improper training of crewmembers
- Failing to properly maintain equipment to ensure safety
- Hiring unqualified personnel
- Using a boat that is not seaworthy
- Taking a boat out in inclement weather
- Poor supervision of crewmembers
Maritime injuries also occur due to dangerous situations, such as vessels sinking, fires and explosions, and defectively designed or manufactured equipment.
Consult one of our Stuart maritime lawyers for your free consultation.
Advantages of Hiring a Reputable Attorney
There are many advantages to working with a Stuart maritime lawyer when pursuing compensation for your maritime injury.
For one, an attorney can be your guide throughout the legal process, handling each step to try to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. This includes completing any necessary paperwork, reviewing your injuries and other damages to determine the value of your claim, and negotiating with your employer and/or its insurance company.
Every step of the way, your attorney will be advocating for your best interests. This is important because the other parties in your claim will be focused on their best interests, which are to pay out no compensation or as little as possible.
An attorney will also have detailed knowledge of maritime laws, including the Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), and the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). This is key because this will allow your lawyer to accurately determine all of the forms of compensation you may be entitled. This knowledge also helps your attorney understand how to prove negligence, which you must do in Jones Act and DOHSA claims to obtain compensation.
Call a Stuart maritime lawyer today at 1 (855) 722-2552.
Claims Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that allows injured seamen to sue their employers for negligence when they suffer injuries during the course of their work.
A seaman is anyone who does at least 30 percent of his or her job as a crewmember or captain on a vessel that is considered to be in navigation. Being a crewmember generally means two things:
- The worker has duties contributing to the function or helping accomplish the mission of the vessel where the injury occurred
- The worker has some connection to the vessel or an identifiable group of such vessels
Contributing to the function of the vessel does not mean the employee needs to be operating the vessel. For instance, bartenders, stewards, cooks and divers all qualify as seaman under the Jones Act.
Other employees who qualify as seaman could include:
An example of someone who would not be covered by the Jones Act would be a member of the administrative support staff of the vessel.
A vessel can be any boat or watercraft, provided it is in navigation, which means it is:
- Capable of moving
- On waters that can be navigated
- In operation
The boat does not have to be in the water to qualify as a vessel under the Jones Act. As long as the vessel is capable of moving under its own power, it qualifies. The vessel can be tied up at a dock, but it cannot be out of the water on blocks.
Examples of vessels that fall under the Jones Act include:
- Fishing boats
Proving Your Claim
There are two things you need to prove to have a chance of obtaining compensation in a Jones Act claim:
The Injury Occurred When You Were Working
Your attorney will need to collect evidence to establish when and where the injury occurred. This could be as simple as reviewing the accident report that was filed after the injury occurred. Your attorney may also collect other evidence of your injuries, such as pictures from the scene or statements from witnesses.
Your Injury Was a Result of Another Party's Negligence
This is what you must prove in any personal injury claim. The central issue is whether another party breached a standard of care. A standard of care is a legal obligation to exercise the same level of reasonable care that another individual would if he or she was in a similar situation.
You must also establish a connection between the negligence and your injury. However, unlike a personal injury claim, you only need to show that negligence played a role in your injury, not that it was the main cause of your injury. This means negligence could have played a small role in your injury. This is a lower standard of proof than other personal injury claims.
Compensation Under the Jones Act
You can pursue the same forms of compensation in a Jones Act claim that you can pursue in a personal injury claim, such as:
This includes all of your current medical expenses and also your future medical expenses, such as:
- Prescription medications
- Travel expenses for appointments with doctors
- Physical therapy
- Surgical procedures
- Mental health counseling
You can also recover compensation to make up for the loss of current and future earnings as a result of your injury. Earnings also include vacation time and retirement accounts, like 401(k)s. This form of compensation also takes into account your career and potential promotions that would be available if you were able to continue working in the same capacity as before.
Pain and Suffering
This is compensation for physical pain from the injury and emotional anguish. Since there is no monetary value attached to this form of compensation, the court will consider a variety of factors when determining how much to award, including the severity of injuries and the amount of physical pain and mental anguish you have experienced.
In rare circumstances, victims are able to recover compensation for punitive damages. This form of compensation is only allowed if the court finds that the victim's employer willfully and recklessly violated the standard of care.
Loss of Enjoyment
If the injury hurts your ability to take part in leisure activities you used to enjoy, you may be able to recover compensation for this loss. Leisure activities could include hobbies, exercise or other recreational activities.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The Jones Act imposes a three-year statute of limitations on injury victims. This means you must file a claim within three years from the date of the injury. If you do not file a claim within that time, you lose the right to do so and may miss out on your only opportunity to recover compensation.
There are situations where this three-year statute of limitations can be extended. For example, if you can prove that you did not discover the injury immediately after it happened, you may be given three years from the date you discovered the injury to file a claim.
Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act Claims
This federal law covers maritime employees who are injured on navigable waters or adjoining areas customarily used for loading, unloading, repair or building of a vessel.
The LHWCA defines maritime workers as those engaged in traditional maritime occupations, including:
- Ship repairmen
- Harbor construction workers
- Ship breakers
The LHWCA also covers those who transport goods from vessels on navigable waters. For example, truck drivers who transport goods from a ship are covered by the LHWCA.
However, the law excludes the following employees:
- Seamen covered by the Jones Act
- Those covered by state workers' compensation laws
- Employees injured as a result of being intoxicated
- Employees injured due to the willful intention to harm themselves or others
- Those who perform clerical, secretarial, security or data processing jobs
- Those employed by restaurants, museums, clubs, camps or recreational operations
- Those employed by a marina who are not engaged in construction, replacement or expansion of a marina
Covered employees may be able to obtain compensation as long as their injury occurs in navigable waters or in areas adjoining navigable waters, such as:
- Other areas used for loading or unloading vessels
Unlike the Jones Act, those covered by the LHWCA do not have to prove that negligence was a factor in their injury to have a chance of obtaining compensation. In this way, the LHWCA is similar to workers' compensation.
Forms of Compensation
The LHWCA provides for several forms of compensation that are similar to what an injured employee would get under workers' compensation:
The LHWCA covers all of your medical expenses related to your treatment, which could include:
- Bills for hospital stays
- Medical procedures, like surgeries
- Equipment and assistive devices
- Blood tests
Temporary Total Disability
When an employee suffers an injury that temporarily leaves him or her totally disabled and unable to work, he or she may be able to obtain temporary total disability. This is equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for the entire time your injury prevents you from working.
Temporary Partial Disability
This is similar to temporary total disability, except it is for employees whose injury temporarily forces them to do a different job with the same company or a new company. This is also equal to two-thirds of your lost earning capacity.
Permanent Total Disability
This is almost the same as temporary total disability except the injury is not expected to improve. Victims will receive this form of compensation for as long as they suffer from their total disability.
Permanent Partial Disability
Sometimes workers sustain permanent injuries that still allow them to do some type of work. For example, they may be employed in the same field with fewer hours and less responsibility than they had prior to the injury. These workers may be entitled to permanent partial disability, which makes up for the lost wages caused by their injury.
There are two types of permanent partial disability:
- Scheduled permanent partial disability (PPD) – This type of compensation is reserved for injuries listed in Section 8(c) of the LHWCA. Employees receive 66 and two-thirds percent of their average weekly wage for a certain number of weeks, based on their disability.
- Unscheduled PPD – This applies to all injuries not listed in Section 8(c). Workers receive two-thirds of their lost earning capacity.
This form of compensation covers services you obtain to help you find employment that is within driving distance of where you live. For instance, you could obtain compensation for:
- Job placement assistance
- Skills testing
- Accommodations to help you perform your job
Statute of Limitations for LHWCA Claims
The statute of limitations for LHWCA claims is just one year from the date of your injury, according to according to § 913 of the act. However, if you were not aware of the injury right after it occurred, the statute of limitations will not begin running until the date you are aware or are reasonably expected to be aware of the injury.
Claims Under the Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) applies to situations where someone is killed because of a wrongful act, neglect or default more than three miles from the shore of the U.S. These claims can be filed by the deceased's spouse, parent, child or dependent relative.
Compensation for a DOHSA Claim
DOHSA allows claimants to pursue compensation for pecuniary losses they sustained from their loved one's death.
Pecuniary losses could include:
Lost Financial Support
This covers the loss of income from the deceased. This form of compensation is calculated by estimating what the deceased would have earned if he or she had not died.
This provides compensation for household services the deceased performed before his or her death. This is usually calculated based on the cost of paying someone to perform these tasks.
Loss of Nurture, Guidance, Care and Instruction
This covers the emotional guidance and instruction provided by the deceased. For example, the deceased was probably expected to provide guidance and support with making life decisions.
Loss of Inheritance
This attempts to compensate for the loss of financial assets the deceased would have left behind if not for his or her premature death.
You can also attempt to recover compensation for reasonable funeral expenses for your lost loved one.
DOHSA allows you to recover compensation even if your loved one's own negligence contributed to the injury that caused his or her death. This is similar to many state's contributory negligence laws.
However, even though you are still able to recover compensation, it will be reduced by your loved one's percentage of fault. This means that an award of $100,000 will be reduced to $60,000 if your loved was 40 percent at fault.
Statute of Limitations
There is a three-year statute of limitations for DOHSA claims that begins on your loved one's date of death. If the statute runs out, you may lose your only chance of pursuing compensation.
Contact a Stuart Maritime Lawyer Today
Schedule your free, no obligation legal consultation today to find out if you can pursue a claim under the Jones Act, the Longshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Act or the Death on the High Seas Act.
We want you to receive any compensation you are entitled for your injury or the death of your loved one. We are prepared to thoroughly investigate your situation to try to build a strong case that gives you a chance of obtaining compensation.
Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today.