Personal Injury Lawyer: Maritime Law & Those Injured At Sea

For those who work in the continental United States, resolving personal injury claims is generally a matter of determining under what branch of the law said injury falls and then pursuing damages requisite to the injury in question. However, for those who work at sea, whether on cruise ships, fishing vessels, or international cruise liners, any claims relating to personal injury concern an entirely separate area of the law known as maritime law. This article discusses some of the differences of maritime law as it relates to those who've been injured on the job. 

Regarding The Vessel

Under maritime law, the owner of a vessel is required to maintain its seaworthiness. This includes everything from the walkways on cruise ships to the stability of the deck on a fishing vessel. Any aspect of a vessel's physical design, crew, or the appliances the seaman utilize in their day-to-day operations that hinder his or her ability to perform the duties of the job can result in a ship's designation as unseaworthy. Any injuries that occur as a result of a vessel's unseaworthiness are automatically the responsibility of that vessel's proprietor.

Concerning Maintenance & Cure 

Unique to the realm of maritime law is a stipulation known as maintenance and care which mandates that a maritime vessel's owner is responsible for the care of injured seaman regardless of where the fault lies concerning said injury. The maintenance component of the law relates to any and all expenditures that represent necessary living expenses, including his or her mortgage payment, rental expenses, and and utilities. 

The cure aspect of the provision relates to the medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury.  In the twenty-first century, these include everything from x-rays to medications to follow-up visits, and even rehabilitation if necessary. 

The Longshore Act 

While maritime law applies specifically to those individuals who work on a ship of sorts, The Longshore Act provides protection to workers who work near the water, such as at docks or harbors, but not necessarily on the water. However, certain individuals in designated occupations are not covered by the Longshore Act, such as those who work as shipbuilders building small, recreational vessels, mechanics who work on recreational ships, as well as those who work in the marine farming industries. 

The other overarching guideline for coverage under the Longshore Act (see The Situs Test) is that workers work 'on, near, or adjacent to navigable waters'. This essentially includes anyone who works part-time or full-time on docks, piers, or any other area related to maritime commerce or industry.

Overall, there are unique characteristics of personal injury claims relating to maritime industries, including who retains the burden of liability and the damages that the responsible party is required to forfeit. Rely on a trusted personal injury attorney to help you navigate through the legal process.