There are an estimated 95,471 miles of coastline in the United States. Thus, it is no surprise that right from our earliest days as a nation, and continuing into present time, a major source of our economy has depended on seafaring vessels and the goods and cargo they transport. For the most part American ships are safe and our industries, and the governmental organizations that oversee them, have been diligent about safety. However, there is still a great deal that can go wrong on a seafaring vessel and maritime injuries are unfortunately as much a part of our history and present as sailing itself. Fortunately maritime accident victims have rights and legal options.
The Jones Act
For most American workers injured on the job workers’ compensation provides the primary means of recovering the financial damages associated with a workplace injury. However, even when the workplace accident is the result of employer negligence, employees claiming workers’ compensation are usually unable to sue their employers. By contrast workers in a maritime industry who are injured on the job as a result of employer negligence are eligible to sue their employers. This and other expanded legal rights were granted in the Jones Act of 1920. In order to qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act and have access to the expanded rights an individual must meet the following qualifications:
- Be a worker whose duties contribute to the functioning of the vessel
- Have a substantial connection to the vessel
- Be on a navigable vessel, not one that is permanently secured
However, though the vessel itself must be navigable it does not need to be at sea at the time of the injury. If you are unsure whether or not you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act it is important to consult an attorney experienced in maritime injuries. Even if your injury does not qualify as a maritime injury it may still qualify as a regular personal injury claim.
Maritime Injuries and the Importance of Good Legal Care
A maritime injury can have devastating effects on the accident victim and his or her family. Despite safety precautions a seafaring vessel is a dangerous place to work and when an accident does occur there may be a delay in getting proper medical care. This can easily result in serious consequences.
The Consequences of a Maritime Injury
- Diminished quality of life
- Lost wages
- Diminished future earning potential
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Costly medical bills and expensive treatment
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one has suffered a maritime injury pursuing legal action is an important step to win justice and attain the financial compensation you need. It may also help you gain emotional closure about what happened and in some situations it could even inspire positive safety changes that prevent a similar accident from happening to other people in the future. Dies & Parkhurst is experienced in maritime injury litigation and we will provide the legal care and expertise our clients need during their case.