Alexandria Maritime Injury Attorney
Injured seamen may be entitled to compensation for harm suffered. Maritime injury litigation is rarely straightforward, however. Historically speaking, shipping companies and other maritime employers have taken an aggressive approach to minimizing their liabilities, in some cases proactively including contract provisions that put the injured seaman in a vulnerable position.
Founding Attorney Walter Gabriel has built his career handling complex litigation as both a prosecutor and as a plaintiff’s-side attorney. His experience provides a keen understanding of how to effectively navigate a dispute so as to secure favorable results for clients. Contact our firm today to learn more about how we can help.
In the United States, the circumstances surrounding the injuries suffered by a seaman may give rise to a negligence-based claim under the Jones Act or under general maritime law, or it may give rise to a no-fault maintenance and cure claim. Each of these theories of liability require a different litigation strategy.
Let’s briefly explore their basic elements.
Jones Act Liability
Under the Jones Act, qualified seamen are entitled to full negligence-based compensation for their injuries if their employer fails to use ordinary care to maintain a reasonably safe work environment. As Jones Act claims are based on negligence considerations, vicarious liability principles apply. This means that the employer can be held liable for the negligence committed by their other employees (i.e., your colleagues).
An employer’s duty to maintain a reasonably safe work environment is quite broad under the Jones Act, and it may even require that the employer properly supervise (or terminate the employment of) seamen who pose a unique risk of harm due to past violent incidents, for example.
Successfully litigating a Jones Act claim is “easier” than a standard negligence-based injury claim, as the plaintiff need not establish that the employer’s negligence was the substantial cause of their injuries. Instead, the plaintiff only needs to establish that the employer’s negligence contributed in some small part to their injuries.
Maintenance and Cure
Maintenance and cure benefits are available to injured seamen, even in situations where their employer is not at-fault. Maintenance and cure benefits are similar to workers’ compensation benefits, in that the injured seaman is entitled to benefits that cover medical expenses as well as their living expenses for the period of their recovery.
Under general maritime law, seamen are entitled to sue and recover a range of damages, including loss of wages, loss of future earning capacity, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, if they can show that their injury was caused by some unseaworthy condition of the vessel. These damages may not be duplicative with maintenance and cure benefits, however.
Operators have an absolute duty to provide a seaworthy vessel to seamen. Unseaworthy conditions that cause injury may therefore expose such operators to significant liability. Whether a condition is “unseaworthy” depends on if that condition was not reasonably fit for its intended purpose. For example, if a cargo ship has defective container latches, then those latches would likely be considered an unseaworthy condition. If a seaman is injured due to a latching failure, then they may bring a lawsuit against the operator under general maritime law for unseaworthiness.
Request a Free Consultation with an Experienced Alexandria Maritime Injury Attorney
At the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, we are committed to the provision of comprehensive legal representation to injured seamen.
We understand the challenges that injured seamen face when attempting to litigate a claim and secure adequate compensation. We engage closely with our clients and invest the time and effort necessary to develop a personalized case strategy.
If you’re ready to speak to an Alexandria maritime injury attorney about your claims, we encourage you to contact us at 318-445-2121 or to submit an online case evaluation form. Consultation is free and confidential.