Accidents that happen on ships, oil platforms, docks, and dry docks are often covered by different laws and rules than regular workplace injuries. Laws like the Jones Act and other maritime laws help protect injured workers. Marine accidents often cause severe injuries, sometimes resulting in permanent disability or even death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a marine accident, you need to understand your rights. Often, the timeline to file an injury claim to be compensated for your injuries is very short. Contact a maritime injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Understanding the Jones Act
The Jones Act covers men and women who work at sea. The law does not replace standard maritime law protections for sailors. If you are injured aboard ship you are still entitled to maintenance and cure payments from your employer while you recover. However, if the accident was caused by the negligence of your employer, another sailor, or a third party, the Jones Act allows you to pursue additional damages beyond just cure and maintenance.
Maintenance damages only cover your basic cost of living on land while you recover. Cure only covers your reasonable medical expenses. Under the Jones Act you can file for pain and suffering damages. Family members of deceased sailors may also file wrongful death suits under the Jones Act.
If you were 100% at fault for the accident that injured you, the Jones Act will be of little help to you. However, if someone else’s negligence contributed even a little to your injury, you may be able to recover some damages.
The Jones Act is a federal comparative negligence statute. It applies in every state. Comparative negligence means that damages can be awarded even if you are partially at fault for your own accident. If a sailor was drunk, and was injured, but the injury was due to a poorly maintained piece of equipment, it could be decided that you were 15% at fault for the accident and the ship owner was 85% at fault. Your damages would be reduced by 15%, the same amount you were to blame for the accident.
Types and Causes of Marine Accidents
Some type of negligence causes almost all marine accidents. Some common causes of marine accidents include:
- Failure to properly repair or maintain equipment
- Failure to inspect equipment and parts
- Not outfitting decks with non-skid surfaces
- Failure to provide a seaworthy vessel for work
- Poor training of crew
- Failure to adequately warn crew about hazardous areas
- Lack of proper safety equipment
- Impaired crew members
- Creating lax safety environment
- Assault by coworker
The most common type of marine accident is a slip and fall accident. Because of the nature of the working conditions, the presence of heavy equipment, and the threat of exposure to toxic substances, even a simple fall can cause serious injuries. If you were injured by someone else’s negligence, even if it was simple slip and fall, you have a right to be compensated for your injuries.
Types of Injuries
Examples of marine accident injuries include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Chemical burns
- Inhalation of toxic chemicals
- Fractured bones
- Strains and sprains
- Ripped and torn ligaments and muscles
- Crush injuries
There are several different issues that sometimes arise in marine accident injury cases that can affect your ability to get the compensation you deserve. Sometimes the effects of an injury are not felt right away. The longer it takes you to request a medical exam after an injury, the harder it might be to prove that your injuries were caused by the marine accident. Some injuries do not show any symptoms for days or weeks.
Another issue is that sometimes seamen are reluctant to get medical help. They are afraid of losing their employment or of missing work. However, working while injured puts you and your coworkers in greater danger. It can also negatively impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. If you are having issues with your employer’s attitude towards your injury you should speak with a maritime injury lawyer.
Sometimes workers try and get back on the job before they are medically ready. This is a safety issue. Related to this, some workers are reluctant to follow all of the recommendations from their doctor. Following doctor’s orders can only help you recover faster and improve your chances at receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.
You don’t have to deal with your injury claim by yourself. We can help you find the right maritime injury lawyer to handle your case. The sooner you have your case evaluated by an experienced and skilled lawyer the better chance you have at recovering the compensation you are legally entitled to. Ship owners and employers have teams of lawyers and insurance experts working for them, shouldn’t you have someone in your corner? Contact us today and we will help you find a maritime injury lawyer with a successful track record in handling cases like yours.