Maritime Accidents: Frequently Asked Questions

When a maritime accident occurs, there are a lot of questions that need answers. Who is responsible? How can I prove physical injury? What happens next? And most importantly, how do I establish liability? However, not all maritime accidents result in injury or death. But the many that do can leave you and your loved ones feeling completely helpless and confused.

Fortunately, if you have been through a maritime accident, there is a cruise ship injury attorney that can help you collect evidence and prove your case in court. Read to learn frequently asked questions about maritime accidents.

What’s a Maritime Accident?

Maritime accidents are sudden, unexpected, and unintended events on board a vessel or its surrounding waters. These accidents can be caused by human error or negligence, equipment failure, and environmental factors.

Maritime accidents may result in injuries to crew members and passengers, damage to property, and loss of life. Maritime accidents can also cause damage to the environment if they involve oil spills or other hazardous materials.

What’s the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that governs maritime commerce in the United States. The legislation, signed into law in 1920, protects American businesses and workers by ensuring that only American-built and owned vessels can transport goods between U.S. ports.

The law ensures injured seamen and passengers receive timely damages for their injuries. If a crew member is hurt due to the negligence of the ship’s owner or because the ship they were working on was unseaworthy, they are entitled to financial compensation under the law.

Who Files a Claim According to  Jones Act?

Anyone injured in any way while serving on a vessel in U.S. waters, on voyages originating in U.S. ports, or passing through U.S. territorial waters must file a claim under the Jones Act within two years from their injury.

Jones Act Seaman: What Damages Can you Recover?

Jones Act Seamen may recover:

  • Medical expenses.
  • Lost wages.
  • Pain and suffering damages.

If Hurt Offshore, What Do You Do?

You need to:

  • If you are hurt, seek medical attention. Ensure your employer knows about the injury so they can report it to their insurance company.
  • Document what happened. Write down what happened, who was involved, and when it occurred. Write down witnesses’ names and contact information so they can be interviewed later if necessary.
  • Take pictures of your injuries and any damage to property (such as tools). Pictures will help prove how serious your injuries are and how much damage was done to your property in case of a dispute later on with your employer or insurance company.
  • Once you’ve confirmed the nature of your injury, consider what type of legal action is open to you. You could look at a personal injury, workers’ compensation claim, or both.

What Happens If the Employer Breaches Maintenance and Cure?

Seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure under the Jones Act. Maintenance and cure is a payment made by the employer to ensure that the seaman can continue to receive medical care while on leave or after they return to work.

The amount of maintenance and cure depends on the time the seaman has been employed by their current employer. If an employer terminates its obligation to provide maintenance and cure too soon after promised, it may have breached its duty under the Jones Act. A party can bring a claim against its employer.

How Do I Qualify to Be a Seaman under Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal statute requiring any person injured during their employment to be compensated based on their damages. The Jones Act also applies to seamen who work on ships; they include those who work on land and only board the vessel for specific periods, such as pilots or tugboat operators.

For example, a mechanic who works at a shipyard but only works on board a vessel when under repair is a seaman under the Jones Act.

To qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You must have been injured while working on a vessel registered in the United States or its territories.
  • Your injury must have happened while performing work-related activities on board this vessel.
  • Help the ship accomplish its goals.

Maritime accidents seriously threaten everyone involved in the shipping and transportation industries. The secrecy involving them makes them even more dangerous because it makes it difficult for people to recognize potential hazards before they occur. It has dramatic implications for the U.S., not just in terms of preventing another catastrophic accident but also in the overall safety of the seamen.