What If I Was Injured While Working At Sea?

Injured At Sea

Some laws govern how injuries and accidents that occur on ships or other seagoing vessels. These rules are called “Maritime laws” or “Admiralty laws.” The content of these statutes pertains to the relationship between private individuals and businesses that are involved with ocean-based commerce. The entities could include sailors, shipwrights and workers, fishers, and passenger vessels that operate on the ocean. Maritime law is different from traditional land injury and liability laws. Federal courts can review cases involving the Maritime law upon returning to land. Victims of injuries at sea should find an experienced personal injury lawyer in Mobile who is well versed in the Maritime law.

Maritime Law

Ship owners, as well as the employees that operate the ships, have a responsibility to ensure the vessel is adequately safe and ready for sailing. Their ships must be considered seaworthy and should have a properly trained crew with enough sailors to man it. Proper maintenance may not suffice to keep a ship owner or operator from being liable. An illness or injury a passenger sustains while on the ship may still be the owner or operator’s responsibility under the Maritime Law. A passenger is not the only people this applies too. Owners and operators also have a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace for their employees. Injuries to Sailors, fishers, or ship workers might leave the ship owner liable to compensate them for their damages.

Injured Sea Workers

Sea workers who become injured on a ship can receive “cure” and “maintenance” from the proprietor of the ship they were injured. The ship owner is obligated to “cure” the injured seamen. The cure means that the injured worker must be given medical care at the expense of the shipowner, up to a “maximum medical cure.” The care can include pain medication, disability aid, and the cost of surgeries. The ship owner must also cover “maintenance,” which is covering an injured sailor’s living expenses while they heal. If a seaman must sue his employer to obtain these rights, the shipowner must pay for his attorney fees.

Ship Maintenance and Injuries

A ship must be properly maintained to ensure the safety of its sailors. The ship owner is obligated to keep their sailor’s workplace safe. A ship that is cared for and is properly ready for open waters is considered seaworthy. For a vessel to be considered seaworthy, all pieces of the ship must be operational and safe to use, and the ship must have a crew of properly enough trained sailors. Safety precautions should also be in place before setting sail. If you an injured sailor can prove the ship’s unseaworthiness as the cause of the injury or accident, the ship owner or operator may be required to pay additional recovery fees for their negligence.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act is legislation the makes Maritime law an official federal obligation for sailors and ship workers who spend 51% of their time on a vessel navigable waters. The Jones Act pertains to illnesses or injuries that arise while out on the water. The act states that if a man or women become injured or become ill while out on the water, they are entitled to compensation for recovery, regardless of negligence. The Jones Act does not require that someone guilt is proven, or that a vessel was unseaworthy. The Jones Act states that any sailor, fisherman, or ship worker that is injured while working on a sea vessel is entitled to the same rights that the Maritime law grants them. They have the right to cure, maintenance, and unearned wages.

Under the Jones Act, maintenance is a daily allotment that covers the sailor’s room and board while they recover. A ship owner is obligated to provide maintenance until the sailor reaches the maximum cure. The maximum cure is a figure that medical professionals determine after assisting the injured seamen. The value should represent the cost required for the patient to see maximum improvement. In other words, a shipowner must pay cure until the seamen’s injury reaches the point when further treatment will not improve them. The seamen’s contract often states the maintenance amount, but the amount may increase if the actual amount of expenses is higher than the agreed upon price.

The Jones Act also covers unearned wages that are considered a right under the maritime law. The unearned wages are everything the seamen would have earned if he or she had not been uninjured. The amount of those wages can differ depending on is the sailor is contracted, paid upon returning to the mainland, or on a schedule.

The Jones Act and Maritime law work well in conjunction with one another to ensure that men and women who become injured while at sea are given the means to live and receive compensation for their damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured while working at sea, contact the experienced maritime injury attorneys at Clay, Massey & Associates at 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our website to schedule a FREE consultation! Our law firm is located at 509 Church Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602.