Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Maritime Accident Claim?
If you’re a maritime worker who’s been injured in an on-the-job accident, the Jones Act and other maritime laws give you the right to seek compensation for your accident-related injuries. However, these laws also limit the time in which you have to file a maritime accident claim.
If you wait too long to file your claim, the courts may refuse to hear your case. In addition to the statutes of limitation, there are many advantages to filing a claim as promptly as possible after a maritime accident.
The Time Limit for Filing a Maritime Accident Claim Depends on Which Laws Apply
How long do you have to file a claim? The answer depends on which maritime law applies in your case. If you’re a seaman filing a Jones Act claim, you have three years from the date of your accident in which to file your claim. That’s the same amount of time survivors have to file a maritime wrongful death claim under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).
On the other hand, if you become injured while working in a port facility, you’ll only have a year from the date you were injured under the Longshore Harbor and Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Time Limits for Reporting a Maritime Injury
You should report a maritime injury as soon as possible after an accident, and make sure that your employer documents your injury.
- In order to receive LHWCA benefits, you must give written notice of your injury to your employer within 30 days of your accident.
Seamen’s Rights After a Maritime Accident
The rights of injured seaman are protected by federal maritime laws such as the Jones Act, the LHWCA, and DOHSA. These rights include:
- Maintenance and cure benefits. Under federal law, injured seamen have a right to maintenance and cure benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Maintenance benefits help pay for the injured seaman’s living expenses (food, rent, utilities, etc.). Cure benefits cover the injured seaman’s medical expenses (procedures, exams, medications, therapy, etc.). The injured seaman is entitled to receive these benefits until they reach “maximum medical improvement” — a condition where the injuries have fully healed or no further healing or recovery can be expected.
- The right to a safe workplace. Like land-based employers, maritime employers are legally required to provide their workers with a safe working environment. When they fail to do so, say by failing to maintain a vessel or hiring a full crew, a vessel may be considered “unseaworthy” under the law. Seamen have the right to recover damages for injuries resulting from the unseaworthiness of a vessel.
- Unseaworthiness. General maritime law gives qualifying seamen the right to seek compensation for injuries caused by the unseaworthiness of a vessel in addition to maintenance and cure benefits. Damages can include ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and mental anguish and more.
Risks of Not Hiring a Maritime Attorney
Maritime and admiralty law is one of the most complex and complicated areas of the law. Just determining which laws apply in your circumstance can be a challenge. The best way to protect your rights after being injured in a maritime accident is to hire an experienced maritime attorney to represent your case.
An experienced attorney can help you at every step of the process, from filing your maritime accident claim within the required time limit and fully investigating your accident to negotiating your case with your employer’s insurance. Injured maritime workers who are represented by an attorney generally recover significantly higher compensation than those who don’t.
Speak to a New Orleans Maritime Attorney As Soon As Possible After Your Accident
The sooner you take action to protect your rights after a maritime accident, the better. Failing to act promptly after a maritime accident could prevent you from recovering the total compensation you are due for your accident-related damages.
If you’ve been injured in a maritime accident, contact the law offices of Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC without delay. We’ve been representing workers injured in a wide variety of maritime accidents in Louisiana and all over the Gulf Coast for more than four decades. Let us deal with your employer and their insurance company while you recover from your maritime accident injuries.