Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Recent hit movie inspires maritime questions among the public

Though the holiday season wasn't short of its own blockbuster movies in the theaters, a movie was released in theaters earlier this year that has kept viewers talking. "Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the title role, depicted the dramatic, true hijacking of a commercial vessel by Somali pirates.

More than just the terror and relief that the story inspired in the public, the film brought a legal matter to the masses that they might not have otherwise thought about: maritime law. What if a vessel worker gets injured while aboard? What laws exist to protect those impacted by boat accidents or negligence on the water in general?

Those who followed the hijacking mentioned above or who saw the movie might wonder specifically what workers injured in that sort of scenario could do from a legal standpoint. Maritime lawyers indicate that proving negligence on behalf of a captain or employer in that case could be difficult. It is a relatively rare, extreme situation in comparison to other types of work injury claims.

The two basic laws that exist for maritime workers in the case of injury are the Jones Act and the Longshore Workers' Compensation Act. Depending on the status of a worker in a boat accident case, he or she would be protected by either one of the laws or the other. A basic question that a maritime tort claim lawyer might ask an injured worker is whether he or she was technically a crew member of the vessel at the time the injury was suffered.

Maritime law is complex and different than workers' comp laws in Tennessee and throughout the country. That is why it is so important for someone who has been injured on a ship to work with a lawyer who can ease his or her mind with accurate information and consistent guidance through an injury claims process.

Source: Workforce, "Rough Sailing for Workers With Maritime Complaints," Max Mihelich, Dec. 9, 2013

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