Admiralty & Maritime Injury

Many of those who work and play on or around the water, whether on inland rivers and lakes or on the open seas, wouldn't trade that life for any other. But working or playing on the water can be dangerous and lead to accidents resulting in disability, injury, or even death. For example, a boating accident may occur due to a drunk boat driver hitting another boat or wrecking his own boat, injuring the passengers. Fishermen or water-skiers may be injured on the water by passing barges or other recreational boats. Boat equipment may be defective, resulting in injury. A loved one may drown after falling off a dock at a neighbor’s house. A crew member of a barge may be seriously hurt when working on the barge or transferring to another boat. If such injuries occur, the person injured or their family may be due compensation.

Typical personal injury concepts apply to cases involving people who are injured on the water, such as fisherman, recreational boaters, and skiers. However, because the injuries occur on the water, Federal maritime law applies. Accordingly, such cases require the assistance of an attorney with knowledge and skill in maritime law. The attorneys at Jehl Law Group have experience in representing boaters injured in accidents on the water. We will gladly provide you with a free consultation if you or a loved one was hurt while boating or working on a river, lake, or sea.

The Federal Jones Act covers most maritime workers by placing liability directly on the employer. However, some injured workers are not able to benefit from this law. In such cases, workers may have claims under maritime law based not on any degree of negligence by the company, but on the “unseaworthiness” of the vessel. Maritime law looks to the vessel itself as the cause of the injury in the event that the vessel workplace is unsafe or the vessel or crew do not function as intended. In addition, maritime law can even hold third parties liable for the poor condition of a vessel. Thus, both the worker's employer and the owner of the vessel could be liable for damages to a seaman.

What about dockworkers who are not seamen? Hazardous work goes on every day at harbors, ports or terminals, marine railways, and on wharfs and dry docks along our coasts and the shores of our waterways. The rights of these mariners are typically covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), and these claims (similar to workers’ compensation) are handled through the U.S. Department of Labor. Strict OSHA standards regulate this industry. If you or a loved one has been injured while working as a mariner, you can be due compensation for your injuries and damages.

Some of the financial claims that may be awarded are:

  • Medical and disability payments;
  • Occupational disease compensation arising from maritime workplace hazards;
  • Rehabilitation services--in some cases, vocational rehab training;
  • Travel to and from medical treatment; and
  • Wrongful death benefits to compensate for the death of a mariner due to workplace injuries.

Disability compensation is generally two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage, payable through the duration of the injury's effects. In cases of permanent injury, the Department of Labor uses a table to determine the payments and length of time awarded. Wrongful death awards are also payable to widows/widowers or eligible survivors at a rate determined by the Secretary of Labor.

Any dockworker injury should be reported immediately and the employer notified as soon as possible. Written claims must be filed within a year of the injury or last day of compensation. Consulting with an experienced attorney is paramount. The success of your legal claims hinge on putting yourself in the hands of caring and competent attorneys in this complex, very specialized area of the law. Jehl Law Group will arrange a free consultation to ascertain the merits of your claims in a confidential, relaxed meeting. In fact, we will even come to you, if more convenient for you. If you or a loved one has been injured, call us today.