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 (LHWCA). Such employees are almost always automatically entitled to four types of compensation:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent impairments to certain body parts
The attorneys at BoatLaw, LLP have decades of experience representing clients injured while working aboard vessels on navigable waters. They are knowledgeable about the Jones Act and General Maritime Law (also known as Admiralty Law).
Our attorneys represent clients throughout the west coast from their offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellingham and Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California.
If you were engaged in maritime employment and were injured on the job, contact an experienced damages attorney at 1 (800) 262-8529 today. The initial consultation is free.
Information Center for Maritime Damages
In order to prove the essential elements of a negligence claim, the burden is upon the plaintiff (the maritime employee bringing the case) to establish by a preponderance of the evidence 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 (employer) was negligent by breaching one of the duties imposed 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, an injured seaman may recover the following types of damages resulting from an employer’s negligence:
- Medical Expenses: A type of special damages. Medical expenses consist of the cost of medical services rendered in the past and future, including hospital bills, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and medications.
- Wage Loss: A type of special damages. If the injuries impact your ability to make money, you may recover your lost wages or diminished earning capacity. Both past and future wage loss may be recovered.
- Pain and Suffering: General damages include any pain and suffering stemming from the initial event, surgeries, and lingering problems. Past and future pain and suffering damages are recoverable.
- Loss of Life’s Enjoyment: General damages are also recoverable for loss of life’s enjoyment. Injuries may result in permanent impairments or disfigurement. Things you once took for granted can become difficult or impossible, and 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 their losses. While an injured seaman may never fully recover their health, they can recover compensation for their loss.
A worker is covered by The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act if they were engaged in maritime employment and were injured at a location recognized by the act.
What is considered maritime employment?
- Someone injured on actual navigable waters in the course of their employment
- Someone injured while engaging in an essential part of the loading or unloading process of a vessel
What is considered a location 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, an 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 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 immediate illness or a delayed reaction.
- 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 workers is actionable under the Jones Act.
33 U.S.C. § 905(b)– View 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 Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act. Check out this report.
Maritime and Admiralty Law Recent Cases– This website includes a variety of recent cases dealing with Maritime and Admiralty law. Specifically, there are cases addressing 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, Alaska, California, and Oregon
The attorneys at BoatLaw, LLP know it can be difficult dealing with 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 BoatLaw, LLP litigate cases from their offices in Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California, and Bellingham and Seattle, Washington.
If you or a family member were injured at work, contact BoatLaw, LLP at 1 (800) 262-8529 for a free case evaluation.