Maritime Law Because injuries happening on waterbound vehicles are bound by a different set of law, known as maritime law, injured parties need attorneys who are well acquainted with the laws that govern shipboard injuries. First, it’s important to understand the different types of seaboard injuries and how the laws apply.
Cruise Ship Injuries While cruises have quickly become one of the most popular vacation types, when a passenger becomes injured during a cruise, he or she can easily feel stranded. There are several types of cruise ship accidents related to maritime law, including accidents related to a fall onboard due to slippery or uneven surfaces, water slide or swimming pool accidents, accidents during excursions hosted by the cruise line, contaminated food, and medical negligence. Another, serious, form of onboard injury is related to sexual or physical assault by another passenger or a crew member.
Obviously, your options while on a cruise are limited, since cell phone service is often extremely expensive onboard. If something happens while on board, you’ll be limited to what the crew can do to help until you are back on American territory. Once you are back in the States, though, it’s important you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible in order to stay within the one-year statute of limitations attached to your cruise ticket. Often, cruise lines choose to settle out of court to avoid the fees associated with court cases, but you will need to bring as much documentation as possible to your attorney in order to cement your case.
Maritime Crew Injuries Whether you’re injured while working on a cruise ship, an oil tanker, a commercial fishing boat, or another kind of vessel, you have rights under the Jones Act, originally known as the U.S. Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This law makes maritime workers wards of the federal government, which gives them rights outside of their employer.
These rights are covered separately from international Maritime Law, giving employees the right to file lawsuits for negligence, as well as unseaworthiness. Unseaworthiness refers to the condition of the vessel on which the injured party was required to work. Under maritime law, vessels must meet certain safety regulations. If failure to do so results in an injury, this will likely strengthen a personal injury case.
Just as in land-based work environment, a sea-based employer is required to provide reasonably safe work conditions. Some examples of unseaworthiness include slippery decks, unsafe work practices, dangerously outdated equipment, worn access points to the ship (including ladders and stairs), and an inadequate number of crew members to handle the assigned task.
Among an employee’s rights is that you are entitled to care during your recovery, which means your medical care will be paid for if it cannot be provided on your vessel. If you must go ashore, your employer is required to pay for your room and board, as well as lost wages during the time you are unable to work due to your injuries. In order to qualify under this law, you must spend at least thirty percent of your time aboard a vessel on which you are an employee. The good news is, benefits for seamen under the Jones Act can be significantly higher than benefits for land-based workers.
If you are struggling to recoup costs associated with an injury incurred while working aboard a vessel, a personal injury attorney can help. Simply gather all documentation and eyewitness accounts prior to your meeting.
Sinking While cruise ship sinkings are extremely rare, the recent accident involving the Costa Concordia called attention to the potential dangers of large cruise ships when negligence may be present. When the injured party or family of the injured or deceased party suffers the consequences of a work-related vessel capsizing, a personal injury lawyer can help. The key is to prove that negligence caused the accident.
Maritime law was shaped by the sinking of the Titanic. American and British inquiries came up with recommendations that changed lifeboat regulations and evacuation procedures, emergency communications on board, navigation procedures when obstacles are spotted ahead, and the way ships were built.
Maritime law has its own set of rules, but when someone is injured while on a vessel, personal injury attorneys can help navigate those laws to ensure medical bills and lost wages are compensated.
Chris Roy Jr.