If you’re a seaman who was injured on the job and you’re thinking of filing a maritime lawsuit, it’s important to understand everything that’s involved in the process. Maritime laws and regulations are different from other types of lawsuits and come with their own set of specific rules, from the length of the process, the proof and evidence needed, the costs, and more.
Who Can File a Maritime Lawsuit?
While the Jones Act was written into law to protect maritime workers who are injured on the job, it doesn’t apply to everyone who works in the maritime industry. In order to file a maritime lawsuit under the Jones Act, maritime workers must have spent at least 30% of their work time on a vessel. The vessel must be used on navigable waters or least capable of moving on navigable waters. This means that the vessel doesn’t necessarily have to be moving; it can be tied to a dock. However, it must be capable of movement on water.
For more in-depth information on qualification requirements, including what constitutes a seaman and more in-depth resources about qualifying vessels, see our article, “Who Qualifies as a Seaman in Maritime Lawsuits?”
Common Reasons For Filing a Maritime Lawsuit
In addition to being a qualified maritime worker, you’ll need to have a case that’s covered under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The most common qualifying reasons for maritime lawsuits include:
- Denial of maintenance and cure rights
- Assault by another co-worker or crew member
- Employers failing to provide adequate training
- Injuries due to oil and/or grease on the track
- Faulty and poorly-maintained equipment that led to injuries
Proof Needed When Filing a Maritime Lawsuit
In order to have a maritime lawsuit, you’ll need to have proof that your injuries occurred while at work. Consequently, most insurance mandate that you report any injuries and accidents within seven days. It’s advisable, however, to report the injuries as soon as possible after the incident happened. Additionally, if an insurance company or adjuster decide to fight your claim, you’ll need proof established for your lawsuit. Injuries should be reported to your company of employment and/or immediate supervisor.
In addition to your injuries, you’ll need to fill out an accident report. Exercise extreme caution when filling an accident form out, and make sure to clearly clarify everything that happened. If you are too ill to fully comprehend the form or are under medication, do not fill it out. If you have any questions that you feel aren’t being answered beforehand, consult with a maritime attorney.
You’ll also need to seek medical care, regardless if you think the injury is minor. This will backup your claim and provide proof of your claim. It’s up to you to seek medical treatment if you are capable, so make sure to go to all follow-up medical appointments. Missing even one appointment may result in the insurance adjustor claiming that you are fully recovered.
Hiring a Maritime Attorney
A maritime attorney will not only help you gather evidence and fill out necessary paperwork, but will also help if you’re having trouble obtaining maintenance and cure benefits or medical help. Also, as mentioned earlier, if you need assistance in understanding your obligations in order to file a claim, it’s recommended to hire an attorney before signing anything.
Keep in mind that there are instances in which an employer, insurance company, or another party may deny your claim or refuse to pay out what they are legally obligated to. An experienced maritime attorney understands these types of issues and will fight to ensure that your legal rights are met.
For information on the lawsuit process and details on maritime settlements, refer to Largest Maritime Settlements.