There are a number of dangerous jobs out there that some people simply do out of necessity. There are others, however, that people choose because it’s been ingrained in their very being. Many people involved in maritime work fall into this category, and while it’s usually necessary to love the job to do it, every maritime worker knows that they face serious risks every day that they go to “the office.” While danger is always inherent, it is possible to reduce its chances of occurring. Workers simply need to know what they face and how to handle any injuries that may occur.
Common Types of Maritime Injuries
Falls are the most common form of accident suffered by those who work in the maritime industry. In addition, slip and fall accidents are also not uncommon. Both of these accidents can be caused by wet and slippery surfaces combined with tumultuous waters. Sadly, these accidents can lead to anything from broken bones and neck injuries to brain damage and paralysis. Though these dangers are detrimental, they’re definitely not the only ones faced.
Maritime work also presents the very real danger of going overboard a vessel. This, combined with the danger of being struck by falling or swinging objects, and the very real possibility of chemical burns, creates an environment that seems hazardous at every turn. Unfortunately, these dangers are constant on the high seas, but luckily, workers do have a few protections.
Jones Act Protections
The Jones Act was passed as a part of the larger Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This law was meant to protect maritime workers in many ways, including preventing their jobs from being outsourced, but the Jones Act portion of the law is meant to prevent negligence on the ocean. This law allows maritime workers who are injured due to negligent captains, co-workers or even ship owners to bring lawsuits against the negligent party. Maritime injury lawyer firms are commonly found in states with oceanfront or seafront waters. They are knowledgeable in legal matters pertaining to maritime injuries both in port and offshore. Their experienced lawyers are able to resolve many kinds of domestic and international maritime injury cases.
Additionally, injured workers can bring forth lawsuits if they’re injured on a vessel that wasn’t seaworthy at the time of their injury. Unfortunately, for years it was difficult to say who was a “seaman” under the Jones Act. The Supreme Court eventually decided that any person who spends at least 30 percent of their time on a vessel is covered under the Jones Act, and this set forth the standards to which all maritime workers live today.
Other Possible Protections
A very common form of protection, if it could even be called that, is “maintenance and cure.” When a maritime worker is injured, he’s usually entitled to “cure,” which means the medical bills related to an injury will be paid until he’s recovered as much as possible, and “maintenance,” which is a daily payment, between $10 and $40, that the worker receives for the benefits they would’ve received on board their ship.
Obviously, the “protection” of maintenance and cure isn’t really helpful in a big way. A maritime worker may also be entitled to workers’ compensation, but it’s important that they speak with an attorney before going that route. Workers’ compensation claims will usually remove a worker’s ability to make negligence claims against neglectful parties, and this can lead to the injured individual not receiving the compensation that they fully deserve.
Just because maritime workers choose a more dangerous line of work than others doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be protected if injured on the job. Injuries caused by others’ negligence should always be handled in such a way that a worker, maritime or not, receives care until they’re able to get back onto their feet. Luckily, through the use of an attorney and the Jones Act, many maritime workers are able to care for themselves and their families while recovering from a work-related injury.
Legal writer, Lisa Coleman writes to discuss what the Jones Act is and share how maritime employees do have rights and protections. Maritime injury lawyer firm, Doyle Raizner LLP, is experienced and knowledgeable in domestic and international maritime injury claims, and can represent anyone who has had an injury involving employment at sea.