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Damages

Maritime workers typically fall into one of two categories: seamen or harbor workers.  Depending on your status, different remedies are available.

If you are a seaman, under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law, you can file a lawsuit to seek money damages from your employer for injuries suffered at work.

If you are not a seaman, you are likely covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.  Such employees are nearly automatically entitled to four types of compensation:

  • (1) Temporary Total Disability
  • (2) Temporary Partial Disability
  • (3) Permanent Partial Disability
  • (4) Permanent impairments to certain body parts

Attorney for Maritime Damages in Washington and Oregon

Attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC have decades of experience representing clients injured working aboard vessels on navigable waters. The attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC are knowledgeable about the Jones Act and General Maritime Law (also known as Admiralty Law).

The attorneys represent clients throughout Oregon from their offices in Portland and throughout Washington from their offices in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington,

If you engaged in maritime employment and have been injured, contact an experienced damages attorney at 1 (800) 262-8529 today. The initial consultation is free.


Information Center for Maritime Damages


Elements of Damages

In order to prove the essential elements of plaintiff’s claim, the burden is upon the plaintiff to establish by a preponderance of the evidence in the case the following facts:

  • The plaintiff  is a seaman  covered by the Jones Act
  • The plaintiff was injured while working in the service  of a vessel in navigable waters of the United States
  • The defendant was negligent by breaching one of the duties imposed on maritime employers by the Jones Act
  • The defendant’s negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury for which damages are sought

Types of Damages:
Under the Jones Act and the Unseaworthiness Doctrine, the injured seaman may recover the following types of damages that resulted from the employer’s negligence:

  • Medical Expenses:  A type of special damages.  Medical expenses included the cost of medical services rendered in the past and future.  This includes hospital bills, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and medications, among other expenses.  Both past and future medical expenses may be awarded.
  • Wage Loss:  A type of special damages.  If the injuries impact your ability to make money, you may recover your lost wages or for your diminished earning capacity.  Both past and future wage loss may be recovered.
  • Pain and Suffering:  General damages include the pain and suffering stemming from the initial event, surgeries, and lingering problems as well.  Past and future pain and suffering damages are recoverable.
  • Loss of Life’s Enjoyment: General damages are also recoverable for your loss of life’s enjoyment.  Injuries may result in permanent impairments or disfigurement.  Things you once took for granted can become difficult or impossible.  Compensation is available for your inability to perform these activities.

Ultimately, the goal of a Jones Act Negligence claim is to make the employee whole for his or her losses, set forth above.  This is accomplished with money damages.  Injured seamen may never recover their full health; at least they may recover money.


LHWCA Status

A worker is covered by The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act if they were engaged in maritime employment and are injured at a place covered within the coverage of the act.

What is considered maritime employment?

  • someone injured on actual navigable waters in the course of their employment on those waters
  • someone injured while engaging in an essential part of the loading or unloading process of a vessel

What is considered a place covered under the LHWCA?

  • Navigable waters
  • Area adjoining navigable waters
  • Area adjoining navigable waters and used by employers in loading, unloading, building, or repairing a vessel

What if I am not a seaman?

If you are a maritime worker and not a seaman you are likely covered under the LHWCA.  In addition to obtaining LHWCA compensation benefits from an employer, the injured harbor worker may have a negligence action pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 905(b) against a vessel.

Vessel negligence occurs when the ship fails to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, resulting in injuries to the worker.  Additional damages are available in this situation.


Common Maritime Injuries

Common types of maritime injuries include:

  • Slip and falls: employees often find themselves working on slippery decks caused by hazardous ice or oil.
  • Enclosed spaces: voids and compartments on vessels may not have proper ventilation resulting in toxic environments that can cause you to become immediately ill or perhaps sometime later.
  • Inadequate training: maritime work is inherently dangerous.  It is important that employers teach employers about the hazards and how to safely manage them. The maritime employer’s breach of its duty to educate its workers is actionable under the Jones Act.

Additional Resources

33 U.S.C. § 905(b)– View the Cornell Law’s website to see the laws governing negligence by a vessel.

Joint Transportation Committee Comparison– In 2010 the legislature directed the Joint Transportation Committee to conduct a comparison of medical, vocational and disability benefits in the state of Washington, for employees covered under the Jones Act and those covered Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act. Check out this report.

Maritime and Admiralty Law Recent Cases– This website variety of recent cases released in the last 12 months dealing with Maritime and Admiralty law, including those dealing with workplace injuries that are actionable under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law. Check them out to see cases potentially similar to yours.


Finding an Attorney for Maritime Law Damages in Washington and Oregon

Attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC know it can be difficult dealing with these unexpected injuries and your health is a top concern for us. You may be eligible to file a claim against your employer to receive compensation for your damages.

The maritime lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC litigate cases in in Oregon from their offices in Portland, and in Washington from their offices in Bellingham and Seattle.  The firm represents injured mariners residing in all 50 states and beyond.

If you or a family member were injured at work, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC at 1 (800) 262-8529 for a free case evaluation. Learning about your legal options is risk-free at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2016.

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
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  • Oregon State Bar
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