Maritime law applies to all workers in the maritime industry, including longshoremen, seamen, deckhands, crew workers, and commercial fishermen. When non-maritime workers are injured on the job, they may typically file a claim to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
By contrast, maritime workers who are injured on the job may receive compensation under general maritime laws and the Jones Act. An injured maritime worker’s claim for compensation is brought under the specific purview of maritime law. Thus, it is important to consult with a Pinellas County maritime injury lawyer.
There are restrictions on the period of time an injured maritime worker has to bring an injury claim, so it is best to contact a dedicated Pinellas County injury attorney as soon as possible.
Common Injuries to Maritime Workers
The maritime industry is inherently dangerous, often leading to injuries despite everyone’s best safety efforts. There are various injuries that tend to occur more frequently than others, including:
- Back injuries – Lifting heavy objects or slipping on the deck can lead to back strains, pain, or loss of mobility. Back injuries can sometimes be severe, leading to surgery or even paralysis.
- Burns – Longshoremen and seamen tend to be particularly exposed to burn risk, due to the frequent use of flammable substances.
- Crush injuries – Cargo, machinery, and equipment can all cause a crushing injury to a maritime worker.
- Brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can range from causing mild impairment to total disability.
Compensation for Injured Maritime Workers
An injured maritime worker may request maintenance and cure, file a claim for unseaworthiness, or file a claim under the Jones Act. Many injured maritime workers pursue all three remedies simultaneously. Maintenance and cure are paid by an employer to an injured maritime worker while the worker recovers. Maintenance includes living expenses such as mortgage payments, household expenses, and food. Cure means reasonable and necessary medical expenses, including transportation.
There is no question of fault, generally, a maritime worker is entitled to maintenance and cure payments even if the worker negligently caused their own injury. An injured seaman may also be entitled to the wages lost from missing an international voyage and a Pinellas County maritime injury lawyer can help that person pursue those damages.
Unseaworthiness, for purposes of maritime law, means that some aspect or condition of the vessel, its equipment, or crew was not reasonably fit and that the maritime worker was injured as a result. A shipowner has an absolute duty to provide a vessel that is seaworthy and if the shipowner breaches that duty, it is liable to the worker for any damages that result.
The Jones Act is the avenue for an injured maritime worker to sue their employer for damages due to the employer’s negligence. Under the Jones Act, every maritime employer has a duty to provide workers with a reasonably safe workplace.
The safety requirements are strict and nearly any hazard can lead to a violation of the Jones Act, including inadequate training, grease or oil on the deck, lack of proper equipment, and inadequately maintained equipment.
A Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help
As soon as you are injured, you should report your injury—no matter how minor—to your employer and be sure to complete all necessary paperwork.
Also, contact a Pinellas County maritime injury lawyer as soon as possible to help ensure your legal rights are protected. For more information, contact an attorney today.