Accidents at Sea
New York Lawyers Skilled in Admiralty Accident Cases
Working on a seafaring vessel can be a dangerous job. A disastrous accident on a vessel can destroy a worker’s ability to earn a living, diminish his or her quality of life, and cause untimely death. For over a decade, the admiralty accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph have served New York individuals in Jones Act and commercial fishing claims, death at sea cases, and lawsuits involving pleasure boats. We provide results-oriented representation to professional mariners and others who were hurt at sea. Our clients come from Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the surrounding areas.
Jones Act Claims
Although maritime workers are generally not entitled to recover state workers’ compensation benefits following an on-the-job injury, seamen who are hurt aboard a vessel may be protected by the Jones Act. Normally, an injured seaman will receive maintenance and cure following an accident at sea. Maintenance is a stipend for living expenses, and cure refers to payment for medical bills. In addition, the Jones Act allows a seaman who was harmed by a negligent act of a marine employer or a fellow crew member to sue his or her employer or the owner of the ship where the accident took place for additional damages such as pain and suffering, lost benefits, and diminished earning capacity. This claim must be filed within three years of an accident.
In many situations, a Jones Act case will include an allegation that the vessel on which a marine worker was hurt was unseaworthy. A marine employer has an obligation to ensure that his or her ship or other navigable vessel is safe, secure, and seaworthy. Normally, this means that the vessel is in a condition that can withstand any foreseeable weather hazards, all onboard equipment is in good working order, the crew is sufficiently trained to properly maintain the ship, the vessel’s condition will allow it to perform its intended function in an adequate fashion, and acceptable safety procedures are in place.
Jones Act protections typically apply to seamen who were hurt on offshore oil rigs, shrimp and fishing boats, ferries, barges, tugboats, and other ships that operate on the ocean or an intra-coastal river or canal. Since this law does not define who is considered a seaman for purposes of recovery, it can be hard to determine a marine worker’s status. In general, an employee must be assigned to a particular vessel or fleet and spend at least 30 percent of his or her working hours on a ship that is operating on navigable waters to qualify as a seaman under the Act. Additionally, the vessel on which a seaman works may not be permanently affixed to the floor of the ocean or another navigable waterway.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Often, an injured maritime worker who does not have a cause of action under the Jones Act may recover for his or her harm through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This is a federal law designed to protect employees who are hurt or contract an occupational disease while working on or in an area adjoining the navigable waters of the United States. The Act provides temporary wages and medical benefits to a broad range of injured maritime workers, including longshoremen who move cargo in shipping terminals, vessel builders, certain construction workers, and American contractors who are working overseas in a designated war zone. A worker who seeks to recover under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is not required to prove that his or her harm resulted from negligence. The law supplements rather than replaces traditional workers’ compensation laws.
Death on the High Seas Act
Unfortunately, seamen and other workers may be killed at any time in an unexpected accident at sea. The Death on the High Seas Act permits the personal representative of someone who died while working on a vessel operating in international waters to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s spouse, children, or other dependents. This law was designed to allow those who are financially reliant on a seaman who was killed in a maritime accident to recover the amount of support they would have received if the deceased person had survived.
Still, the Act has several important limitations. For example, it does not allow a spouse to file a claim for loss of consortium. In addition, the Act extends to workers killed in a commercial airline accident that took place at least 12 nautical miles from shore, but it does not permit the relatives of an individual who died while working on an offshore drilling rig to recover for their loss.
Dedicated Maritime Accident Attorneys Serving New York
Due to long working hours, frequent exposure to the elements, and the inherent dangers often associated with working around heavy cargo and machinery, maritime industry employees can face numerous workplace hazards on a daily basis. The laws designed to protect them are complicated. If you were hurt or lost a family member in an accident at sea, you need a capable New York maritime accident lawyer on your side. At the Law Office of Michael H. Joseph, PLLC, we provide vigorous representation to victims who live in New York and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. If you have questions about your rights following an accident, do not hesitate to call us toll-free at (877) 580-6636 or contact us through our website.