Maritime jobs are well-known to entail hazardous work under ever-changing environmental conditions. Maritime tort law refers to the injuries of a person or damages to property in an area of navigable waters in which admiralty has jurisdiction. Industries on the Mississippi use the river for shipping and industrial practices, all of which could lead to accidents on the water or in river vessels. Maritime law reflects a series of rules and regulations that may differ from the avenues available for injuries that occur on land.
Delineating the types of injuries
After an accident, maritime laws provide different legal categories based on the type of damage that occurred, who was injured, where the injury took place, and what conditions led to that injury. Here are some of the categories that define maritime law for worker injuries:
- Maintenance and cure: For those seamen who are injured in the workplace, employers may be required to provide ‘maintenance and cure’ benefits, which cover living expenses while the worker recovers from their injuries.
- The Jones Act: The Jones Act covers injuries caused by their employer or another party while they were in the workplace. Though an injury claim places the ‘burden of proof’ on the worker, the standards for establishing fault is typically lower than in a standard personal injury case. The cause of injury could be related to unsafe working conditions, negligence, failure to provide signage for hazards, assault or intentional harm. Jones Act cases are similar to standard personal injury cases in that the claim could include damages like pain and suffering, wage loss and medical care.
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): The LHWCA is essentially a workers’ compensation program for seamen and dock workers injured on the job. The Act excludes those workers who may be covered by state benefits or compensation.
Fighting for your future
It is essential to know that the statute of limitations for most tort claims is three years after the time of injury. The federal court system enforces maritime laws that provide for seamen and shipping workers to hold multiple parties accountable for their damages. If you or a loved one became injured while working on a shipping/passenger vessel or a dock, you need to find a lawyer experienced in the intricacies of maritime law to explore your options for compensation.