Lost Wages

When maritime workers get hurt on the job, it’s not just the pain they have to deal with. They may find themselves unable to pay their bills, make rent or take care of their families. The sea provides their income, and an injury can quickly turn their financial world upside down. Losing wages because of a work injury is a big deal.

There are laws meant to help workers in these situations get money for their lost wages. But understanding these laws can be tricky. A maritime injury lawyer plays a major role in clarifying legal options for victims and helping them get as much compensation as possible under the law.

Maritime Lost Wages Attorney

When the negligence of a maritime employer results in your injury and the loss of current or future wages, you should be compensated. The Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California maritime injury lawyers of Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski have decades of combined experience fighting for the best interest of maritime clients like you.

Contact BoatLaw, LLP today. Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule your free consultation today.

Information Center

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What Is a Claim for Lost Wages in a Maritime Injury Case?

In a maritime injury case, claims for lost wages cover a wide range of injuries and accidents, including but not limited to:

  • Traumatic injuries
  • Occupational diseases
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Slips
  • Falls and accidents involving equipment or machinery

Importantly, any injury or accident occurring in the maritime employment setting that prevents a worker from performing their job duties can be included in a claim for lost wages.

A lost wages claim is a request for compensation made by an injured maritime worker. This claim seeks to recover earnings that the worker has lost because of their inability to work as a result of injuries suffered while performing their job duties.

Specifically, in the maritime industry, workers who suffer injuries or illnesses while on the job have specific rights under federal laws to claim lost wages. These laws are primarily governed by the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The Jones Act allows seamen who are injured due to their employer’s negligence to seek compensation, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. This law applies specifically to crew members working on vessels in navigation.

On the other hand, the LHWCA provides similar protections for dockworkers, harbor workers, and other maritime employees not covered by the Jones Act. It ensures that workers who are injured on the job receive compensation for lost wages, medical treatment, and rehabilitation costs. Both laws aim to support injured maritime workers by ensuring they are compensated fairly for their losses, helping them to recover and return to work.

Beyond these, other laws and provisions could come into play, depending on the context. For instance, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) may be relevant in cases involving fatalities far from shore, offering a form of lost wages compensation to the families of deceased workers. Additionally, state workers’ compensation laws might apply in certain circumstances where federal maritime laws do not.

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Who Could Be Liable to a Victim for an Injury in a Lost Wages Claim?

Liability is determined based on negligence, unseaworthiness of the vessel, or violation of safety regulations. In a maritime injury case involving a claim for lost wages, the liable parties could include the maritime worker’s employer, the owner of the vessel, or other third parties responsible for the unsafe conditions that led to the injury. Determining liability requires showing that the defendant’s actions or failure to act contributed to the injury.

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Specific Types of Lost Wages

Immediate Lost Wages – refers to the most direct form of financial loss following a maritime injury. This category encompasses the salary or hourly wages an individual would have earned from the time of injury up until they are able to return to work. It’s a straightforward calculation, often based on the injured party’s current earnings, and aims to reimburse for the clear-cut earnings missed during the recovery period. This compensation is crucial for maintaining financial stability during a time when medical bills and living expenses continue to accrue, despite the absence of a regular income.

Future Lost Wages – this type of lost wage compensates for the income an injured worker is expected to lose out on in the future, due to the injury. It considers the individual’s career trajectory, including anticipated promotions, raises, and other opportunities for increased earnings that are now unattainable or delayed. Calculating future lost wages involves an assessment of the injured person’s age, career path, and the growth opportunities in their specific maritime sector.

Lost Earning Capacity — unlike immediate or future lost wages, which are relatively direct calculations, lost earning capacity considers the long-term ability of an individual to earn money at the same level as before the injury. This includes not just missed wages, but also the loss of potential for raises, bonuses, career advancement, and other opportunities. For instance, an injury that results in a permanent disability may prevent an individual from returning to their previous job or from working in any capacity that requires similar physical exertion or skills. Calculating these benefits requires an understanding of the individual’s profession, the severity of their injuries, and the likelihood of recovery to a level of professional competence and earning potential similar to what was possible before the injury.

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Does a Lost Wages Claim Include Wrongful Death Actions?

Yes, a lost wages claim can include wrongful death actions. In these cases, the claim is filed by the surviving family members or dependents of the deceased maritime worker. It seeks compensation for the financial support the deceased would have provided had they not succumbed to their injuries. This can include future earnings and benefits lost because of the wrongful death.

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What Is the Legal Process for Filing a Lost Wages Claim?

The legal process for filing a lost wages claim involves: 1) notifying the employer of the injury; 2) seeking medical treatment and documenting the injury and its impact on work capability; 3) consulting with a maritime lawyer; and 4) filing a claim under the appropriate maritime law, like the Jones Act for seamen or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act for dockworkers. The process may involve negotiations, mediations, or litigation to recover lost wages.

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How Does a Lost Wages Claim Differ From a Maintenance and Cure Claim?

A lost wages claim in the maritime context is primarily concerned with the financial impact of an injury on a worker’s ability to earn an income. This type of claim is focused on recovering the actual income that an injured maritime worker is unable to earn as a direct result of their injury or illness.

Maintenance and cure is somewhat related to lost wages. Maintenance provides a daily allowance for living expenses during recovery, while cure covers medical treatment costs until maximum medical improvement is achieved. Unlike lost wages claims, which require establishing the financial impact of an injury, maintenance and cure are provided regardless of fault, ensuring basic support for the seaman without the need to prove employer negligence.

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How Does a Lost Wages Claim Affect a Victim’s Rights Under State Law?

A claim for lost wages under maritime law operates independently of state workers’ compensation laws, because of maritime activities’ federal jurisdiction. While a maritime worker may not simultaneously pursue state workers’ compensation, their rights under federal maritime law, including claims for lost wages, often provide comparable or better benefits.

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Are There Any Exclusions or Limitations to Filing a Lost Wages Claim?

Yes, there are exclusions and limitations to filing a lost wages claim. Exclusions can include injuries that occur outside the scope of employment, self-inflicted injuries, or injuries because of intoxication. Limitations include legal deadlines for notifying employers of the injury and for filing claims.

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What Are Common Defenses Against a Lost Wages Claim?

Common defenses against a lost wages claim include challenging the extent of the injury’s impact on the victim’s earning capacity, disputing the causation between the injury and the maritime work, and arguing the presence of pre-existing conditions. Employers or their insurers may also assert that the injury occurred outside of work or that the individual has mitigated their damages by returning to work or finding alternative employment.

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Does Partial Fault by a Victim Affects Damages?

Under both the Jones Act and the LHWCA, the concept of partial fault does influence a lost wages claim, but the impact and how it’s applied differ between the two laws.

The Jones Act operates on a comparative negligence basis, which means that if a seaman is found partially at fault for their own injury, their compensation, including lost wages, can be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. For example, if a seaman is deemed 20% at fault for their injury, their compensation would be reduced by 20%. This system allows seamen to recover damages even if they are partly to blame for their injuries.

In contrast, the LHWCA does not penalize the injured worker for partial negligence in the same way. Workers can receive benefits including medical care, rehabilitation services, and compensation for lost wages regardless of their own negligence. However, under certain circumstances, such as intoxication or the intent to injure oneself or others, benefits may be denied. Overall, the LHWCA provides a no-fault compensation system, meaning workers can receive benefits without the need to prove their employer’s negligence or disputing their own contribution to the injury.

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What Is the Role of Insurance Companies as It Relates to a Lost Wages Claim?

Insurance companies assess the validity of claims, calculate the amount of lost wages based on the evidence provided, and negotiate settlements. In cases where the employer is insured, the insurance company is responsible for paying out the compensation for lost wages to the injured maritime worker.

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Are There Time Limits for Filing a Lost Wages Claim?

Yes, there are time limits for filing a lost wages claim, which vary depending on the specific law under which the claim is filed. Under the Jones Act, a seaman must file a lawsuit within three years of the injury. Under LHWCA, claims must be filed within one year of the injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever is later. It’s important to comply with these deadlines to preserve the right to compensation.

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What Legal Options Does a Victim Have If a Lost Wages Claim Is Denied?

When a Jones Act lost wages claim is denied, the victim can pursue several options. Initially, they may seek an informal resolution with the employer or insurer. If this fails, they can file a lawsuit in federal or state court under the Jones Act. This legal action allows for a jury trial, where the victim can present their case for lost wages, pain, suffering, and medical expenses.

For a denied LHWCA lost wages claim, the victim can first request an informal conference with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to attempt a resolution. If unresolved, they can request a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will issue a decision on the claim. If unfavorable, the victim can appeal to the Benefits Review Board and, if necessary, further appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

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What Steps Should a Victim Take Immediately After an Injury to Protect Their Rights in a Lost Wages Claim?

Immediately after a maritime injury, the victim should:

  • Report the injury to their employer;
  • Seek medical attention and follow all treatment recommendations;
  • Document the injury and its impact on their ability to work, including taking notes of any lost workdays and wages;
  • Consult with a maritime injury lawyer to understand their rights and the best steps forward.

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How Does a Maritime Injury Lawyer Help a Victim in a Lost Wages Claim?

When victims of maritime accidents face the daunting task of claiming lost wages, a maritime injury lawyer can help. These specialized attorneys provide assistance throughout the legal process, starting with a careful evaluation of the victim’s case. This initial assessment is crucial as it determines the viability of the claim and sets the stage for the next steps.

Next, the maritime injury lawyer gathers the necessary evidence to support the claim. This evidence collection process involves documentation of the injury, the circumstances leading to it, and its impact on the victim’s ability to earn. This phase is important as it lays the foundation for the claim, ensuring that every aspect of the lost wages, both current and future, is accounted for. Calculating the full extent of lost wages is a complex process that requires not only a thorough understanding of maritime law but also close knowledge of the victim’s employment situation. A lost wages lawyer is skilled in carrying out this process.

Negotiating with employers or insurance companies is another area where the skill of a maritime injury lawyer makes a difference. These negotiations can be challenging, as employers and insurers strive to minimize their payouts. A lawyer uses negotiation tactics that are backed by solid evidence and a strong legal argument, aiming to secure fair compensation that reflects the true extent of the financial impact on the victim.

In situations where negotiations fail to generate a reasonable outcome, the maritime injury lawyer is prepared to take the case to court. Representing the victim in court involves presenting a compelling argument, supported by evidence and expert testimonies, to clearly demonstrate how the injury resulted in significant lost wages.

Throughout this entire process, the lawyer serves as an advocate for the victim’s rights, ensuring that every step taken is in the victim’s best interest. This support is crucial for maximizing the chances of receiving the compensation the victim deserves.

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Additional Resources

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Frequently Asked Questions

This resource, provided by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, clarifies common questions about LHWCA coverage, claims, and benefits.

Lost Wages Under 46 USC § 10313

The United States Code – which houses the official LHWCA law – specifies that a seaman’s right to wages begins when work starts or as outlined in their employment agreement, whichever comes first. Wages are owed regardless of the vessel earning freight, and compensation is required for service period if the vessel is lost or wrecked. The Code also concerns improper discharge, outlines the timing for wage payments, and identifies penalties for delayed payments, improving protections for seamen’s earnings.

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Hire a Maritime Lost Wages Attorney

Boatlaw, LLP., operates out of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California, and serves clients all along the West coast.

Contact BoatLaw, LLP today. Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule your free consultation today.

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