A maritime lawyer practices the law as it pertains to navigable fresh waters in the United States, as well as to the open water such as in the Gulf of Mexico or along the coastal seaboard of the US.
Maritime Attorneys Primary Focus...
is on issues pertaining not only to maritime law, often referred to as admiralty law, but also to the Jones Act. Admiralty law refers to the United States laws and regulations, including international agreements and treaties that govern the activities in any US navigable waters whether its inland waterways or the open sea. Admiralty law is a federally recognized body of laws that formalizes the long-standing maritime maintenance and cure traditions, which have been recognized for centuries. The rules governing who qualifies as a Jones Act seaman, as well as what kinds of seagoing vessels are covered by the Jones Act can be confusing. Court cases continue to emerge that expanded and refine the definition of which workers are covered under the Jones Act and which are not. The average personal injury lawyer is not going to know all the evolving fine points of maritime law. An accomplished maritime accident attorney will.
More Information RE: The Jones Act
The Jones Act, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, safeguards specific rights of seamen when they qualify under the law. The Jones Act allows a maritime lawyer to bring legal actions on the behalf of an injured seaman, against ship owners, ship captain, or other crew members after an accident has occurred.
Do note that although the Jones Act is a comparative negligence statute, which means that your own negligence will merely reduce your damages proportionately, the Jones Act DOES NOT provide benefits to seamen who were injured completely through faults of their own. If you were speaking with a maritime lawyer, he might offer as an example the case where a seaman who is intoxicated while on board his vessel has an accident that is proven to be caused 100% by his own actions and not by the fault of someone else. In such a case, this seaman would not be covered under the Jones Act and could not claim any compensation for his injuries. On the other hand, a maritime attorney was able to convince a jury in a Jones Act claim that the seaman was 65 percent negligent and his employer was 35 percent negligent, the seaman would receive damages minus (in this theoretical example) the percentage (65%).
However, in cases where a maritime lawyer can demonstrate that a seaman's injuries are a result of employer negligence, that seaman would be protected. Common examples of employer negligence that your maritime lawyer would investigate include:
- - Failure to provide a seaworthy vessel
- - Lack of proper safety training before permitting seamen to perform their duties
- - Failure to repair malfunctioning parts and equipment
- - Failure to perform regular check-ups on all equipment and parts
- - Failure to ensure vessel decks contain no-skid surfaces
- - Failure to ensure warning signs are placed in hazardous areas onboard the vessel
- - Failure to provide workers with the proper safety equipment
- - Negligence of the seaman’s co-workers
- - Assault by a co-worker
- - Unsafe work methods
Additional Sources of Information Regarding Maritime Law and the Jones Act
Free Claims, Caselaw, and Legal Commentary Regarding the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 : Read dozens of articles about Maritime Law from the International Risk Management Institute
Text of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) SEC. 33. JONES ACT - RECOVERY FOR INJURY TO OR DEATH OF SEAMAN (46 App. U.S.C. 688 (2002)
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is the statutory workers' compensation provision that covers certain maritime workers, including most dock workers and maritime workers not otherwise covered by the Jones Act.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act commonly abbreviated as LHWCA provides certain workers' compensation benefits for maritime workers who are not seamen covered under the Jones Act. Maritime lawyers do not handle such cases.
The LHWCA and Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), are two of the other major maritime laws that are invoked during offshore and maritime injury litigation. The Death on the High Seas Act permits a maritime lawyer to advocate for widows or dependents of maritime workers who seek compensation for their loveones' deaths due to negligence of a ship’s captain or other crew members, or the un-seaworthiness of a vessel operating off shore by more than three nautical miles. When negligence is suspected in the case of the death of a maritime worker while employed on a boat or ship, there are other statutes, which also come into play, such as the General Maritime Law. Since negligence is such a serious charge, a maritime injury lawyer will seek additional benefits to which their injured client is entitled if the defendant(s) are found guilty.
Maritime Lawsuits Are Complicated
Consider the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Profit Pollution and Deception BP and the Oil Spill: Published on Nov 1, 2013
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill referred to in the press as the BP oil disaster, the BP oil spill or the Macondo blowout, began on 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The maritime lawyers of the law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. represented several individuals and their families who suffered serious injuries and death from the BP oil disaster. Our firm won substantial compensation for them and their loved ones.
It is imperative to contact an experienced maritime accident lawyer, as soon as possible, if you or a loved one is injured while employed as a maritime worker. You deserve to receive the compensation you deserve.
The maritime attorneys of the law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P., Steven J. Gordon, Todd Elias, and Jeff Seely, have dozens of years of combined legal experience. We offer our clients not only the dedication and commitment to their health and wellbeing, but also the resources to handle Jones Act / Maritime Law cases for workers in all kinds of maritime professions. The maritime lawyers of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P well deserve their reputations for successfully litigating on behalf of injured maritime workers.
If you have sustained a serious injury through the fault of others no matter whether you are a deckhand, a mate, an engineer, a tankerman, a cook, or a captain, a maritime injury attorney of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. wants to help. Contact us today to put our aggressive, client-focused approach to work for you or your loved one.
To learn more about admiralty laws and your rights continue reading the information below and then contact our maritime lawyers today. A maritime accident lawyer will review your case and explain your legal options free of charge.
- Maritime Workers
- Maritime Workers Injuries
- Maritime Accident Causes
- Types of Serious Maritime Injuries
- Maritime Law
- Jones Act
Work at sea can be dangerous and exhausting, causing many seamen to be injured. The Jones Act is a law passed in 1920 that protects workers who are injured on seagoing vessels by guaranteeing them or their families insurance coverage if negligence by the owner or a fellow seaman can be proven.
The Jones Act applies to almost all vessels in navigation or capable of navigation. The law applies to vessels on inland navigable waters as well as those at sea. It requires that cargo moving between U.S. ports be owned, built and crewed by United States workers. They must fly the American flag. However, dredges, scows, and barges are also considered vessels for purposes of the Jones Act. Likewise a fish processing vessel towed from location to location would qualify as a vessel. Vessels that are temporarily moored, such as a dredge, also qualify as vessels under the Jones Act.
What Vessels Do Not Qualify Under the Jones Act.
Vessels that are out of the water, or no longer capable of navigation, do not qualify as vessels under the Jones Act. A vessel that is permanently affixed to shore and is no longer in navigation does not a vessel under the Jones Act.
To be eligible for coverage by the Jones act, a worker must spend 30 percent of his time working on a vessel of navigable waters. In addition, the vessel must not have been removed from navigation.
Partial List of Jones Act Seamen
Taking into account the preceding requirements, the Jones Act covers but is not limited to the following types of merchant seamen:
- cargo loaders
- cruise ship employees
- dredge, oil rig and tugboat operators
- pipe fitters
The hazardous type of work on a seagoing vessel makes seamen especially vulnerable to injury. Heavy machinery, the possibility of falling overboard and drowning, fires and explosions, are only a few of the threats a seaman faces daily.
Additional Sources of Information Regarding Severe Maritime Injuries
Sensory and Motor Recovery After the Repair of Upper Limb Peripheral Nerve Injuries: Peripheral nerve injuries may have important effects on a patient's life. When upper limb motor and sensory function are altered, the patient's return to work may be jeopardized.
Burn Rehabilitation Burn rehabilitation is an undeniably difficult and time-consuming effort. Depending on the patient's injury, stage of treatment, and age, the treatment goals and strategies will vary.
NINDS Spinal Cord Injury Information Page A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.
Traumatic Brain Injury TBI (Traumatic brain injury) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on the patient and his or her family can be devastating.Traumaticbraininjury.com aims to ease the transition from shock and despair at the time of a brain injury to coping and problem solving.
Seeking Compensation for Offshore Injuries
If the injury of you or your loved one can be proven to be the fault of the vessel’s owner or another worker, it is important to find out if you qualify for compensation. The owner is bound by law to keep the vessel seaworthy and to maintain a safe environment for his/her employees.
Maritime law is exceedingly complex. Because of the difficulty of applying these laws, it is important to speak with an experienced maritime lawyer who is highly experienced and familiar with the laws. If you or someone you love was injured while working at sea, our maritime lawyers can help you seek the compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life.
To schedule a free case review, contact us today by calling (800) 773-6770 or submitting the Free Case Evaluation Form above.
Additional Sources of Information Regarding Maritime Law and the Jones Act
Stewart v. Dutra In 2005 the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion defining vessels with their ruling in the Jones Act case of Willard Stewart, a marine engineer, was seriously injured while working on the dredge, Super Scoop, during a Boston harbor dredging project.
Who Qualifies as a "Seaman" Under the Jones Act: A seaman is a US citizen who spends a significant amount of his/her time working as a crewmember or a captain on a US flagged vessel that is considered “in navigation” within the coastal waters and inland waterways of the US.
Maritime Workers Injuries
People who work in the maritime industry have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. For instance, the captain and crew members who work onboard crab boats and other commercial fishing boats for months at a time, fighting through severe storms and treacherous seas are faced with life-threatening conditions every day. Welders working on oil rigs face dangers such as falling to their death if the metal slabs they are cutting break loose. And the list goes on.
Maritime workers are required to do some of the most arduous work under the most difficult conditions every single day. In many cases, these workers are forced to work on barely any sleep with inadequate training. Such dangerous conditions put these workers at great risk of injury. These maritime injury risks include:
- - Falls from heights while welding and working on drilling rigs and platforms
- - Sustaining crushing injuries when the seas are choppy and equipment becomes loose (when heavy cargo isn’t secured properly, crew members are at risk of being struck and crushed)
- - Slipping on a slick deck due to exposure to ocean spray, humidity or wet lines
- - Getting limbs caught in nets and lines when rope is not properly handled (can result in serious injuries and lost limbs)
- - Severe, disfiguring burns from fires and explosions
- - Contact with harsh chemicals can lead to serious chemical burns
- - Equipment malfunctions (offshore workers such as oil rig workers, welders, electricians and fisherman work with heavy machinery such as engines, cranes and drills)
- - Loading and unloading accidents
- - Falling overboard (when the seas are rough and choppy, crew members are at risk of slipping and falling overboard when the waves crash on the vessels)
- - Collisions with other vessels
Seamen also face overexertion from the demanding hours and extreme conditions of working at sea. In many cases, these workers are asked to push themselves beyond their physical limits, often putting them at risk of suffering permanent injuries.
These workers are also at risk of sustaining cumulative trauma injuries, which are caused by doing the same motion over and over again. Also known as repetitive stress injuries, these can affect the spine, ankles and feet, hands and wrists, and shoulders.
Maritime Injury Lawsuits
Our maritime attorneys recognize the dangers that seamen face every day. As a result, we fight aggressively on behalf of our injured clients and help them recover the maximum amount of compensation they need to obtain treatment and to support themselves and their families. In many cases, maritime injuries are so severe that the injured workers are no longer able to work in such a demanding field. Thus, they may not be able to support themselves and their families financially. A lawsuit would help them get the money they need to pay for expensive medical bills and to meet their financial responsibilities such as their mortgage and other bills.
If you or someone you love is seriously injured while working at sea, our maritime lawyers may be able to help you get the compensation you and your family need. To learn more, please schedule a free consultation by contacting us today.
Additional Sources of Information
A Precursor to Ergonomics Best Practices for the Shipyard Industries : Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in collaboration with the National Shipbuilding Research Program Advanced Shipbuilding Enterprise (NSRP ASE) and the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH), have conducted a series of ergonomic analyses of work processes at a number of domestic shipyards. These analyses have identified specific work processes within the shipyards that have resulted in numerous, severe, or costly musculoskeletal injuries to the shipyard workforce.
National limb Loss Information Center he Amputee Coalition is the nation's leading organization on limb loss, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for amputees and their families, improving patient care and preventing limb loss.
list of US Burn Centers Burn rehabilitation is unquestionably a difficult and time-consuming effort for the patient. Treatment goals and strategies vary, depending on the patient's injury, stage of treatment, age, and comorbidities.
Traumatic Brain Injury Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an extremely complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on the patient and his or her family can be devastating.
United Spinal Association The United Spinal Association is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, and providing support and information to loved ones, care providers and professionals.
Maritime Accident Causes
Work at sea is dangerous. To be safe, workers as well as ships must be seaworthy. Should a maritime accident occur, a vessel may be far from aid. When a crew member suffers serious burns or is harmed by an explosion, medical help may be delayed. The same would hold true for a ship that capsized in extreme weather or took on water because of poorly stored cargo.
Assistance may be far away while a boat is foundering in disastrous weather. Collisions may occur if the lookout is not properly doing his job or if navigational instruments are not used as they should be.
There are many causes of maritime accidents. While some are unpreventable, like severe weather, others are caused completely or in part by negligence. When negligence causes or contributes to a maritime accident, the injured worker can seek compensation for his injuries and loss.
Statistics show that a large percentage of maritime accidents are caused by human error. Because the conditions at sea are harsh, crew members must be well trained and alert so they can avoid catastrophes from happening.
Additional Sources of Information
Human Error and Marine Safety : The shipping industry has focused on improving ship structure and the reliability of ship systems in order to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing casualties. Yet the maritime casualty rate is still high. It is because ship structure and system reliability are a relatively small part of the safety equation. The maritime system is a people system, and human errors figure prominently in casualty situations.
An Empirical Survey on the Role of Human Error in Marine Incidents: The shipping industry has focused on improving ship structure and the reliability of ship systems in order to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing casualties. Yet the maritime casualty rate is still high. It is because ship structure and system reliability are a relatively small part of the safety equation. The maritime system is a people system, and human errors figure prominently in casualty situations.
Reasons for errors might include:
- - Disrupted sleep patterns
- - Extreme fatigue
- - Inexperience
- - Long voyage cycle time
- - Long working hours
- - Negligence
- - Onboard relationships
- - Poor judgment
- - Recklessness (including intoxication)
- - Stress and work pressure
Types of Serious Maritime Accidents
Offshore maritime workers face a number of different dangers. Of course, a crab fisherman working out at sea for months at a time will face different risks than someone working on an offshore oil rig.
But, one thing is certain, the maritime industry, across the board, is dangerous. Some of the different types of accidents include:
- - Capsizing
- - Collision of vessels with each other or a permanent structure
- - Commercial diving casualty
- - Dangerous listing due to imbalanced cargo
- - Dangerous shifting of cargo, sending cargo into vital parts of the ship’s structure
- - Equipment malfunctions
- - Explosions
- - Extreme weather
- - Fires
- - Foundering
- - Grounding (usually results from failure to properly navigate the vessel through channels, sand bars, and sharp turns)
- - Ice damage
- - Inferior stowage
- - Lack of suitable navigational aids
- - Poor construction design
- - Steering failures
- - Structural failures
- - Transport of dangerous goods
Contact a Maritime Injury Lawyer
If you are involved in a maritime accident, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries and financial losses. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced maritime lawyer contact us today by calling (800) 773-6770 or filling out our Free Case Evaluation Form.
Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is the body of law that governs maritime activities and the relationships between private entities operating vessels on the high seas and other navigable waters.
The law governs maritime activities, including:
- - Marine commerce
- - Navigation
- - Sailors
- - Shipping
- - Hauling goods
- - Transporting passengers
The Jones Act, which was originally called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is the body of law that protects the men and women who work in the maritime industry. The Jones Act was created to help offshore workers and seamen that suffer personal injuries during the course of their employment pursue compensation from their employers.
The act was created because of the dangers these workers face. The surviving family members of maritime workers that are killed during the course of employment can also seek compensation for damages through the Jones Act. Damages might include loss of social relationships, loss of economic support, and funeral and burial costs.
Working in the maritime industry is extremely dangerous. In fact, offshore workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. There are numerous types of vessels covered under the Jones Act, from crew boats and supply boats to commercial fishing boats and jack up rigs. And, there are several types of workers that help them fulfill their missions.
But, one thing these workers have in common is the high risk for serious injuries and death. Our maritime law attorneys recognize that the injuries caused by accidents such as offshore explosions, severe weather conditions and a harsh work environment can change a worker's life forever. They represent sailors who have suffered a range of injuries, including (but not limited to):
- - Severe burns
- - Disfigurement, loss of limbs
- - Back and spine injuries
- - Neck injuries
- - Shoulder and knee injuries
- - Crushing injuries
- - Traumatic brain injuries
- - Death
The Jones Act covers almost all offshore workers. Those who are not considered seamen are likely covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. Our lawyers represent all types of maritime workers that are seriously injured, whether considered a seaman or not.
Talk to a Maritime Lawyer
To learn more about admiralty laws and your rights, please contact our maritime lawyers today by calling (800) 773-6770 or filling out the form above.
Additional Sources of Information Regarding Severe Maritime Injuries
Burn Rehabilitation: Burn rehabilitation is an undeniably difficult and time-consuming effort. Treatment goals and strategies vary, depending on the patient's injury, stage of treatment, age, and comorbidities.
The National limb Loss Resource Center: The Center provides comprehensive information and resources free of charge to people with limb loss and their families, friends and healthcare professionals.
Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: Treatment for spinal cord injuries is divided into to two stages: acute and rehabilitation. The acute phase begins at the time of injury, lasting until the person is stabilized. The rehabilitation phase begins as soon as the person has stabilized and is ready to begin working toward his or her independence.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating.
Offshore workers that suffer serious personal injuries due to negligence during the course of employment are protected under the Jones Act. Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act is the body of law that defines the legal rights of sailors who are injured and the surviving family members of seamen who are killed while working onboard a floating vessel.
Before the Jones Act was enacted, injured sailors had a difficult time suing their employers for damages. The employers would often argue that they weren't responsible and blame other employees for the injuries. The Jones Act was created to put an end to such barriers and to offer better protection for seamen since their jobs come with so many risks.
Prior to the Jones Act, maritime workers who were injured or killed through the negligence of another worker or anyone other than the employer, directly, were only entitled to "maintenance and cure." Maintenance and cure included an allowance that covered medical expenses, food and lodging. When seamen were injured through the negligence of the ship master or a fellow crew member, for instance, they could not seek additional damages from the employer.
History of the Jones Act
A series of historical developments encouraged Congress to provide sailors with more rights. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912, for example, increased public awareness of the many dangers at sea. World War I also raised concerns for merchant marines. These and other events showcased the dangers that seamen and offshore workers faced. In 1920, Congress responded to the events and enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which later became the Jones Act.
The Jones Act states that any seaman who is injured at work can seek damages from his employer. The law also allows families of offshore workers that are killed during the course of employment to rely on the Jones Act to hold the employer accountable for their loss.
Who is protected?
Over the years, the definition of who is considered a "seaman" has evolved. In order to be protected under the Jones Act, the workers' duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or help it accomplish its mission and the worker must have a connection with a vessel in navigation.
Workers covered include those who work on a wide range of vessels, including (but not limited to):
- Ocean going vessels
- Commercial fishing boats
- Crew boats
- Supply boats
- Cruise ships
- Oil rigs
Learn More About the Jones Act
To learn more about the Jones Act, or to contact a maritime lawyer about your rights as a seaman or offshore worker, or as a family member of an offshore worker that was killed during the course of duty, contact us today at (800) 773-6770 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form at the top of the page.
Additional Sources of Information Regarding Maritime Law and the Jones Act
Jones Act: Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act was adopted by the US COngress in 1920. It is a United States federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine and its seamen and vessels.
Overview of The Jones Act and Seamen's Injuries: Unlike almost all land-based workers, seamen are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under either state or federal law. Because injured seamen cannot file workers’ compensation claims against their employers, the only compensation that they are legally entitled to receive for their injuries is through the Jones Act and the general maritime law.
Who Qualifies as a "Seaman" Under the Jones Act: A seaman is a citizen of the United States who spends a significant amount of his/her time working as a crewmember or a captain on a US flagged vessel that is considered “in navigation” within the coastal waters and inland waterways of the US.
US Department of Transportation: Maritime Administration The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is the Federal agency that provides assistance to the shipping public in locating U.S.-flag vessels for the carriage of both domestic and international cargo. To encourage a strong U.S. Merchant Marine for both national defense and economic security, the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 55102) requires that merchandise being transported by water between U.S. points must travel in U.S.-built and U.S.-citizen owned vessels that are registered in the United States.