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Maritime law, also known as maritime admiralty law, is the body of law that governs injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States. Because maritime laws are designed to address the unique challenges that arise on the open seas, they are very different from the laws that regulate land-based activities.
So if you were injured while traveling or working at sea, it is important that you seek the advice of a maritime lawyer. A maritime lawyer will have the tools and expertise necessary to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities after a sea accident.
Flint Cooper, has seasoned offshore accident attorneys who are available to help you after you have been injured at sea. The firm has been practicing for over 20 years and helped thousands of clients get the justice and compensation that they deserve.
Below, this article will discuss some maritime law basics and will talk about which types of injuries are covered under maritime law. This way, you can be more fully informed before proceeding with your legal claim.
- Maritime Lawyer
- Important Bodies of Maritime Law
- Common Accidents Covered by Maritime Law
- When Do Federal Maritime Laws Supercede State Workers’ Compensation Laws?
Important Bodies of Maritime Law
The Jones Act
The Jones Act protects maritime workers who qualify as seamen. A seaman is a worker who spends at least 30% of their time aboard a U.S. vessel in navigable waters and whose role contributes to the mission of the voyage. Some workers who commonly qualify as a seaman include:
- Oil rig workers
- Yacht crewman
The Jones Act works to protect seamen who are injured during the course of their employment, and it allows them to seek damages from their employers. However, the Jones Act applies only when a plaintiff can show that their employer’s negligence contributed in some way to the employee’s injury. To show that an employer has been negligent, the plaintiff will usually have to show that the employer failed to maintain and keep the vessel in a reasonably safe condition under the circumstances.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) protects workers who may not be a part of the vessel’s main crew but who work on the waterfronts and ports of the United States. The Act covers a broad range of employees, including:
- Harbor workers
- Repair workers
- Crane operators
- Ship builders
- Truck drivers
- Ship breakers
- Cargo handling workers
The LHWCA provides medical benefits, wage replacement, and other benefits to waterfront workers who are injured on the job or that suffer from a work-related illness. The benefits are usually provided by the employer’s insurance, and they typically will cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with the injury or illness.
The Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act provides a cause of action for maritime wrongful death claims. The Act requires vessel owners to compensate the family members of a victim who dies at sea. The Act covers incidents where the death was “caused by wrongful act, neglect or default occurring on the high seas beyond 3 miles from the shore of any state.”
When a surviving family member brings a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act, they may be able to recover damages for losses including:
- Lost financial support
- Lost wages
- Funeral costs
- Therapy and counseling services
- Loss of spousal support
If you lost a family member at sea, an experienced maritime lawyer will be able to help you recover the most amount of damages possible.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires cruise ships operating in United States waters to comply with certain safety and security measures. When a passenger or employee aboard a cruise ship is injured, it is possible that they have a claim under this Act. The Act requires qualified vessels to:
- Report crimes
- Develop security plans for emergency situations
- Provide critical medical care to those aboard
- Train crew members in emergency procedures
- Install peepholes in cabin doors to enhance safety
Overall, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act has improved the safety and security of both passengers and crew members aboard cruise ships in the United States.
Common Accidents Covered by Maritime Law
Oil Rig Accidents
Ocean oil rig accidents are usually covered by either the Jones Act or the LHWCA, depending on the type of employee that was injured. Oil rig workers who were injured on the job will usually be entitled to either damages for their injuries or benefits while they recover. Whether an oil rig worker is covered by these laws may depend on the type of rig they work on.
Cruise Ship Accidents
If an employee was injured on a cruise ship due to the vessel owner’s negligence, it is likely that they will be covered by the Jones Act, which entitles them to recover certain damages. However, if a cruise ship passenger was injured, general maritime law, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, or the Death on the High Seas Act may apply.
Cargo Loading Accidents
Because the loading and unloading of ship cargo often requires the use of relatively heavy and dangerous operating equipment, cargo handling is considered to be a dangerous job. When accidents occur on the job, employees may be entitled to benefits under the LHWCA.
When Do Federal Maritime Laws Supercede State Workers’ Compensation Laws?
When an employee is injured at sea and maritime law applies, the federal and common law will supersede state workers’ compensation laws. For example, if a cruise ship employee suffers injury while on duty, they may be able to sue their employer for negligence under the Jones Act even though they would not be able to sue an employer under state workers’ compensation laws.
Flint Cooper applies its knowledge and experience to win trials, not just collect settlements, further strengthening its reputation of providing clients around the world with exceptional counsel and unparalleled advocacy.