Knowledgeable Injury Claims Handling For Seamen Under Maritime Law
Ship crew members — seamen, dredge workers, captains, deckhands, mates, even cruise ship workers — are regularly exposed to dangerous working conditions. Maritime law recognizes these dangers in its requirements of ship owners and operators and by outlining financial compensation for injured mariners.
Depending upon how the injuries occurred, a seaman can seek compensation under general maritime law, under the Jones Act, and/or with an unseaworthiness claim.
- General maritime law does not require the seaman to prove that anyone was negligent or at fault for causing the injuries. It is similar to workers’ compensation, but with greater benefits for the injured seaman.
- The Jones Act is a federal act that allows maritime workers to sue their employers if negligence caused or contributed to their injuries.
- Unseaworthiness is another form of negligence. A vessel owner or operator has a duty to keep and maintain the ship, its crew and its equipment in seaworthy condition. Failing to do so can lead to ship sinkings, injury and death.
Who Qualifies As A Seaman?
A “seaman” is a maritime worker who is a member of a crew of a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigable waters. The seaman’s duties contribute to the function of the vessel and its mission and must be “substantial” in duration and nature. In general, a maritime worker who meets these requirements and spends 30 percent or more of his time working in service of a vessel qualifies under the Jones Act.
What Damages Could You Receive?
The general maritime law allows injured merchant seamen to receive maintenance and cure. Maintenance is the reasonable cost of room and board while the seaman is recuperating from injuries. Cure covers medical care and treatment to the extent that it is “curative” (it does not cover treatment that is for pain relief but not cure).
Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can recover medical care not paid as cure, loss of income not paid as unearned wages, out-of-pocket expenses, past, present and future pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, future medical expenses and future loss of earnings.
To learn more about these issues please read our in-depth article on the Jones Act.
Lawyer Who Understands Complex Maritime Claims
Although general maritime law and the Jones Act specify financial damages, seamen sometimes have difficulty getting all of the benefits they are owed. Employers and their insurance companies may try to end “maintenance and cure” payments, saying they are not curative. They may argue that there was no negligence on the part of the owner or that unseaworthy conditions did not exist.
Because maritime law is unique and complex, injured seamen risk inadequate representation if they hire a general personal injury attorney to attempt to argue a maritime injury case. The Bluestein Law Firm, P.A., and maritime injury attorney S. Scott Bluestein focus exclusively on admiralty and maritime law.
Mr. Bluestein holds a Master of Law in admiralty from Tulane University Law School and has been practicing in this field since 1992. With more than 15 years of experience, he is prepared to get results in your maritime injury case. Our firm has represented clients in maritime accident cases involving:
- Improper equipment or missing safety equipment
- Noncompliance with safety standards
- Working in dangerous conditions
- Inadequate and poorly trained crew
- Vessel unseaworthiness leading to vessel sinking
- Ship collisions
For skillful, thorough and experienced legal help, contact the Bluestein Law Firm, P.A., in Charleston, South Carolina, to schedule a free initial consultation, or call toll free 833-415-0886.