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Willful Misbehavior of a Seaman

In some cases, an employer will deny compensation to an injured seaman by arguing that the injuries were a result of the seaman’s own willful misbehavior. Under Washington law, in some cases, the employer can even deny maintenance and cure if the injuries arose from the seaman’s own misconduct.

Work injuries can be life changing. An attorney experienced in maritime and admiralty law can help you receive the benefits you deserve especially when your employer is claiming that your own willful misbehavior contributed to your damages.

Attorney for The Willful Misbehavior of A Seaman

The maritime lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC have experience representing injured clients and their families. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about unseaworthiness, willful misbehavior of seaman and other issues that arise under the Jones Act.

If you have been injured at sea in Washington, Oregon, Alaska or California, contact an experienced attorney at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC today. Our attorneys can review the details of your case and may be able to seek damages for your injuries on your behalf.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 today for a free evaluation of your case to discuss getting the compensation that you deserve so that you can recover from your injuries.


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Elements of Willful Misbehavior

Fighting, intoxication by alcohol, and drug impairment are a few examples of the types of willful misbehavior that can impact a maritime claim for damages after an injury.

In some cases, people contact us believing that they will be unable to recover damages because of their employer’s accusation that they misbehaved. However, this is not always true.

Not all willful misbehavior or deliberate acts of indiscretion deprive the seaman of the right to fair compensation for the injuries that occurred on the job.

The most common types of willful misbehavior alleged by an employer include:

  • Fights with others at sea;
  • Intoxication by drugs and/or alcohol;
  • Contracting venereal diseases;
  • Contracting a sexually transmitted disease during sexual intercourse in foreign port;
  • Illegal drug use prior to or during employment which results in injury.

Employers often argue that they did everything in their power to ensure the employee was properly trained and knew all rules and regulations of operating and/or working on the vessel. Additionally, the following allegations of misconduct may be made by the employer against eh employee:

  • The injured employee intentionally misrepresented or withheld certain facts about their medical history.
  • The withheld medical facts were important when the employer decided to hire the person now claiming damages.
  • A connection exists between the withheld medical facts and the injury that is claimed in the lawsuit.

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The Impact of Misconduct on Maintenance and Cure Benefits

Maintenance and Cure is a duty imposed on an employer to provide care for a seaman who becomes injured during their service of the ship. Claimants may seek payment to cover medical expenses, housing, and other necessities while they recuperate.

Employers have a duty to cure injured workers until they are restored back to good health.

An employer’s refusal to pay maintenance and cure damages may give the injured seaman the right to file for compensatory damages, attorney fees and punitive damages, if that refusal was unreasonable. If the claim is denied because of an allegation of the employee’s intentional misconduct, then it is particularly important to seek out the services of a maritime lawyer in Washington, California, and Oregon experienced in handling these types of cases.


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Additional Resources

7.11 Maintenance and Cure – Visit the website of the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit which encompasses federal claims in Washington and Oregon. Find the Model Civil Jury Instructions for the Jones Act and other admiralty claims including the standard jury instructions for Section 7.11 Maintenance and Cure. Learn more about the elements and burden of proof for these claims.

Seamen’s Injuries: Volume 51 – The University of California at Berkley’s Law Review has an article that discusses jury trials involving damages for injured workers. This page also discusses wrongful death actions. Click the link to find out more information on these seaman injuries. Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, negligence, and unseaworthiness. This page also addresses wages an employer is expected to pay to injured workers.


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Willful Misbehavior Maritime Attorney in Washington and Oregon

If you have been injured on the job and your employer is refusing to pay maintenance and cure, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC.

Attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC realize that working at sea carries a higher risk of injury than other forms of employment. If you are injured, our attorneys are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve, despite your employer’s claims.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 today for a free evaluation of your case to see if you are eligible to file a claim for damages even if they are a product of your own willful misbehavior. We represent clients throughout the States of Washington, California, and Oregon from our offices in Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, and California We also take cases throughout Alaska.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

Client Testimonials

  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
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