Maritime Law

Accidents and Injuries Affecting Seamen & Maritime Workers

Maritime work may present many hazards to offshore workers, longshoremen, seamen, crew members, commercial fishermen and harbor workers. These men and women recognize the dangers associated with their line of work and brave the elements on a daily basis, working in rough seas and operating heavy machinery that makes it possible for new oil resources to be discovered and excavated, for goods to be transported overseas and through inland waterways and for fish and other marine life to be caught for consumers worldwide.

Considering the nature of maritime work, it is no wonder that accidents occur. A worker on an offshore oil rig may be seriously injured in a fire or explosion caused by a well blowout. A commercial fisherman may fall overboard in rough seas. A longshoreman may be crushed by heavy machinery. In these and all maritime accidents, injuries and illnesses, an injured worker may have the right to seek compensation under various maritime laws.

We have highlighted some key topics related to maritime injury claims for American workers:

Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a maritime law that entitles the family of a deceased maritime worker to financial compensation from a negligent ship owner, maritime employer or other liable party. DOSHA covers incidents that occur at least 3 nautical miles from shore.

General Maritime Law
Maritime law as a whole pertains to legal affairs and dealings involving maritime vessels, ship owners, crewmembers, passengers and cargo. An important aspect of maritime law is how it addresses accidents and injuries that occur at sea or on inland waterways across the U.S. Maritime law outlines how an injured seaman or other maritime worker may recover compensation for such injuries.

Jones Act
The Jones Act addresses accidents and injuries to seamen that are caused by negligence or an unseaworthy vessel. When a worker on a maritime vessel (a seaman) is injured because of a negligent or wrongful act on the part of the captain, vessel owner or other crew member, he or she may be able to seek monetary damages for medical care and possibly more.

Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) entitles longshoremen and harbor workers to financial compensation when they sustain on-the-job injuries. LHWCA also covers occupational illnesses and accidents of all kinds, regardless of specific fault, negligence or wrongdoing. This is similar to a state workers' compensation program but applies specifically to longshoremen and harbor workers.

Maintenance and Cure
Under general maritime law, an injured maritime worker may be able to recover maintenance and cure benefits for virtually any type of accident, illness or injury that is related to their work. This may include compensation for medical expenses, room and board and wages until the injured worker is able to resume his or her duties.

Maritime Piracy
When some people think of pirates, they get an image of a drunken man with an eye patch, cutlass and parrot on his shoulder. Maritime piracy is still an issue in modern times, and today's pirates use sophisticated weapons and vessels to overtake ships at sea. Maritime workers and passengers alike may be at risk of being injured, tortured and held hostage in pirate attacks. Those injured by maritime piracy may be able to seek monetary damages for the injuries they have endured.

Offshore Injury
Working offshore can be dangerous, particularly when a worker is inexperienced, when safety regulations are not properly followed and when equipment malfunctions. If an offshore worker on an oil platform, jack-up rig or other vessel is injured, he or she may be entitled to financial compensation under the Jones Act or other relevant maritime law. A skilled attorney can seek complete benefits for a worker's offshore injury claim.

Seamen's Rights
In order for a worker to recover compensation under the Jones Act, he or she must be considered a "seaman." There are a few key qualities to consider when determining whether an individual qualifies as a seaman under the Jones Act. The worker must be assigned to a vessel operating at sea or inland in a navigable waterway. The worker's duties must contribute to the vessel in some way. The worker's connection to the vessel must be substantial (both in regard to time and nature).

Types of Maritime Accidents
There are many different types of maritime accidents. These may occur on virtually any type of vessel, such as a barge, tanker, crew boat, oil rig, jack-up platform or commercial fishing boat. A worker may fall from a height, may slip and fall on deck, may be injured by defective equipment, may fall overboard or may suffer severe burns in a fire or explosion. Depending on the cause of the accident and the nature of the work the injured worker was performing, he or she may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act or other maritime law.

Types of Maritime Injuries
The injuries that affect maritime workers are often catastrophic in nature. They may not only require immediate medical attention and hospitalization but may result in a temporary or permanent disability or even the death of the worker. Some common maritime injuries include burns, back injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, crush injuries, head trauma and electrical shock.

Getting detailed information and qualified legal help is crucial when dealing with any type of offshore injury or maritime accident.
To learn more, find a maritime injury attorney near you.