Considering the unpredictable and hazardous working conditions both on the shore side and at sea, it is not surprising that sea travelers risk injury. However, such an expectation does not excuse the negligence of the employer from contributing to an injury. If you suffer from injuries on the docks, in a port, on a vessel, or while doing other maritime activities, you deserve to receive the justice and compensation that you deserve by filing a maritime injury claim. This guide highlights the critical aspects you need to know regarding maritime injuries and claims.
Types of maritime accidents
Slip and fall
Vessels have decks that can result in serious slip and fall accidents due to cluttered or uneven floors.
Lack of proper safety gear or dangerous equipment can lead to injuries.
One might fall overboard due to fishing or loading cargo, leading to drowning or hypothermia.
Tight workspaces can lead to contributing to injuries. For instance, toxic injuries can lead to poisoning, and in places with limited oxygen levels, the risks of asphyxia can increase.
Types of maritime injuries
- Eye injuries– Impairment or loss of vision can make it challenging for one to resume working.
- Burns– Burns can result in physical disfigurement and emotional scars
- Amputations– In some cases, injuries can lead to the loss of a limb.
- Back injuries– Back injuries vary from herniated disks to strains
- Acoustic trauma– Injuries can lead to long-term hearing damage
- Brain injuries- Head injuries include cognitive, hemorrhaging, and concussions.
Maintenance and care
When seafarers suffer from injuries, they have the right to receive maintenance and cure benefits despite when or how the accident happened, provided they were working. In this case, maintenance covers the living experiences of the seafarer during recovery, including taxes, food, utilities, and mortgage. Other expenses such as insurance, repairs, gas, internet, and cable television bills are not covered. In contrast, the cure benefits include medical costs associated with the injuries suffered, including traveling to medical appointments, special medical equipment required, rehabilitation, examinations, medications, and doctor visits.
Seafarers who want to receive a settlement under the Jones Act should prove that they suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence. In particular, an employer can be held liable under the Jones Act for the following reasons:
- Failure to offer proper safety gear and equipment
- Co-worker assault
- Spills including grease and oil on the deck of a vessel
- Failing to ensure that equipment works correctly and up to date
- Failure to install hazard and warning signs around dangerous places
- Overworking of the staff resulting in fatigue
Under Jones Act, you can receive a settlement for damages such as loss of earning capacity, lost wages, disfigurement, suffering, pain, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Maritime law recognizes a worker’s compensation program famously regarded as Harbor Worker’s Compensation or Longshore. It offers compensation to employees who suffered injuries while they worked in navigable waters, including decks and piers, repairing ships, and loading or unloading cargo. Most importantly, the Longshore Act covers workers employed to perform maritime duties, including ship mechanics, shipbreakers, harbor workers, and longshore workers.
However, the Act excludes employees who receive state benefits, including recreational vessel workers, small vessels, retail, and office workers. Under the Longshore Act, maritime workers have rights such as:
- The first option of choosing a physician of their choice
- A provision for the employer to pay for permanent or temporary disability and loss of organs and limbs to compensate for the loss of earning capacity
- If the victim dies, the widow or widower is entitled to approximately 50 payments
- Injured employees can receive 66 percent of their weekly salary until they recover
You need to know that if you work in maritime areas, you have the right to receive compensation if you suffer from injuries. However, if you think your rights are violated and require assistance, you can consult a professional maritime lawyer at Naylor Law. In the meantime, you should report an injury (severe or minor) to your employer, seek immediate medical attention and fill in the required paperwork. That can help in establishing credible proof of your injury if one violates your rights.