Do I Need a Maritime Lawyer?
If you work in the maritime industry, we don’t have to tell you that you’re exposed to risks and hazards on a regular basis. Accidents happen with little or no warning. They can leave a worker with serious, even fatal injuries.
Maritime employers are required by law to provide their workers with a safe workplace. Noncompliance can result in tragedy. Some of the most deadly maritime disasters in history have resulted from an employer’s failure to maintain a safe work environment for their employees.
So what do maritime workers do when they become injured and unable to work because of an on-the-job maritime accident? You might not know it, but injured maritime workers have many rights and are protected by many laws, including the Jones Act. You may have several options when it comes to seeking compensation for the damages caused by your maritime accident injuries. To ensure you get the total compensation you are owed, you need a maritime lawyer to represent you.
Understanding Maritime Law and Your Rights
It’s important to understand your legal rights as a maritime worker. A maritime injury claim is very different from your typical personal injury claim. The biggest difference is that for the most part, maritime injury claims are governed by special federal laws rather than state or local personal injury laws.
There are a number of federal laws that protect the rights of injured maritime workers. In addition to general maritime law, injured maritime workers are also protected under the:
- Jones Act
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
Knowing which law applies in your case can be a challenge. Some laws limit you to only maintenance and cure benefits, while others, such as the Jones Act, allow qualified maritime employees to seek additional compensation for the damages caused by their injuries. All have statutes of limitation for filing a claim; if you wait too long to take action, the courts may refuse to hear your case.
Situations Where You May Need a Maritime Lawyer
Maritime accidents can occur for many reasons but often are the result of negligence on the part of a maritime employer or another worker. Maritime accidents like explosions and fires, slip and falls, collisions and groundings, drownings, falling overboard, enclosed spaces accidents, and crew and cargo transfer accidents are often caused by:
- Poorly maintained vessels, docks, or rigs.
- Poorly maintained equipment.
- An inadequately trained or manned crew.
- Careless or impaired crew members.
- A lack of proper safety training, supervision, and equipment.
Any one of these accidents can result in catastrophic, even fatal injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
These are just a few of the injuries a worker can suffer in a maritime accident. Depending on their severity, maritime accident injuries can have a major impact on a maritime worker’s health, livelihood, and future.
Benefits of Hiring a Maritime Lawyer
Let’s say you’ve been injured in a maritime accident. Your injuries are so severe that you are unable to return to work. Since you aren’t working, the bills are piling up, including those related to the treatment of your injuries. Your family, friends, and co-workers have probably recommended that you need to speak to a maritime lawyer.
This is good advice for many reasons. A maritime lawyer possesses the specific knowledge and experience to successfully handle your maritime injury case. Their understanding of the industry’s unique challenges, regulations, and legal precedents greatly enhances the likelihood of a successful outcome for your case.
A maritime lawyer can assist you at every phase of the process, from advocating for your rights and negotiating with insurance companies to pursuing maximum compensation for your injuries.
Understanding the Complexities of Maritime Law
A maritime accident lawyer can help you understand the complexities involved in pursuing an injury claim, including the intricate legal procedures, paperwork, and filing requirements that are critical to the success of your case. They’ll be able to help you avoid making the kinds of mistakes that could affect the total amount of compensation you’ll be able to collect for your injuries.
Gathering Evidence and Documentation for Your Case
The outcome of your claim will depend on the evidence you have to support it. Collecting this evidence can be difficult for someone with little or no experience in maritime law. Maritime lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you gather, collect, and preserve this evidence. Evidence in a maritime injury claim commonly includes:
- Medical records
- Accident reports
- Witness statements
Recovering Maximum Compensation for Injuries and Damages
In addition to gathering the evidence you’ll need to support your claim, a maritime lawyer can also help you identify the full extent of your accident-related damages as well as assign a dollar value to your damages. Common damages in a maritime injury claim include current and anticipated medical expenses, lost wages, loss of income, pain, suffering, and more.
Knowing the extent and cost of your injuries along with having the evidence to back up your claim is the key to obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve.
When to Consult a Maritime Lawyer After an Accident
When do you need a maritime lawyer? We recommend that you should speak with a maritime attorney as soon as possible after your accident. They can ensure the preservation of evidence, keep you in compliance with legal deadlines, and protect your rights. In most cases, the sooner you hire a maritime attorney to represent you, the better your outcome.
Take Your First Step: Call the Louisiana Maritime Lawyers at LKSA Today
If you’ve been injured in a maritime incident and are uncertain about your legal options, you don’t need to navigate these complex waters alone. The Louisiana maritime lawyers at Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC are here to provide the guidance and support you need. Our experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of maritime law and will fight to protect your rights and secure fair compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and let us help you navigate the legal challenges ahead. Your rights matter, and we’re here to defend them.