A Marine Lawyer Explains Your Legal Rights
If you are a maritime worker who has been injured on the job, you have important legal rights and protections. The laws governing accidents and injuries that occur on or near the water are confusing and difficult to sort through on your own. A skilled Jones Act or maritime lawyer can help you understand these laws so that you can recover the full compensation you are legally entitled to.
The Willis Law Firm represents injured seaman and non-seaman in maritime related cases nationwide. Attorney David P. Willis has more than 30 years of experience helping individuals and families who have been the victims of a wrongful death or serious personal injury. He knows the ins and outs of maritime law and is committed to providing you with the information and legal representation you need to secure a maximum award or settlement in your case.
If you are a seaman and have been injured on a ship or vessel you may be able to file a negligence suit against your employer under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides injured seamen with the right to recover damages against employers for injuries arising from the negligent acts of the employer or co-workers during the course of the seaman’s employment. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, in order to recover under the Jones Act, the injured seaman must prove some negligence or fault on the part of the employer or the employee’s co-workers. A negligence suit can be filed against an employer for all types of unsafe conditions, including:
- Lack of proper equipment
- Lack of safety devices
- Improperly trained or unsupervised crew
- Unsafe work procedures
- Broken or improperly maintained equipment
- Negligence of co-workers
- Assaults by co-workers
The burden of proof required in a Jones Act claim is much lower than a traditional negligence claim. In an ordinary negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In a Jones Act case, the employer can be held liable for the slightest degree of negligence. This means that in order to recover Jones Act damages, you only need to prove that your employer’s negligence played some part, no matter how small, in causing your injuries.
General Maritime Law – Unseaworthiness Claims Against Vessel Owners
Under General Maritime Law, injured seamen also have the right to recover damages from the vessel owner. Owners of ships and vessels have a legal duty to provide crew members with a seaworthy vessel. If the vessel or any of the equipment on the vessel is unsafe or not fit for its intended purpose, the vessel owner can be held liable for a crew member’s injuries. This means if the owner of the vessel or ship is different from your employer, you will be able to file an unseaworthiness claim against the vessel owner. Filing deadlines or statute of limitations on a claim under General Maritime Law is usually three years from the date of the incident, but due to many situations the filing deadline may be as short as one year. Therefore it is crucial that an injured seaman or non-seaman contact a maritime injury lawyer to make sure that all notice requirements and filing dates under the General Maritime Law are calculated and understood by the injured party.
Conditions that can give rise to an unseaworthiness claim include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Improperly maintained or worn out equipment
- Inadequate equipment
- Spills and other slipping hazards
- Improperly trained and/or unsupervised crew members
- Lack of safety devices and life-saving equipment
- Lack of warning signs for hazardous or dangerous conditions
Injured? An Experienced Maritime Attorney Can Help
The rules for determining what types of maritime laws or causes of action apply in a given situation are extremely complicated. The wrong tactic or incorrect claim can threaten your success in recovering the damages you are legally entitled to. If you have sustained a serious injury that threatens your continued employment, or your ability to work without physical pain, contact an experienced marine or maritime lawyer today. You can schedule your free initial consultation with the Willis Law Firm by calling 1-800-468-4878. Do not let a simple mistake ruin your chance for recovery.