The Jones Act and other laws governing the maritime industry provide means of legal compensation to seamen and other workers in the longshore and offshore fields in case they are injured by the negligence of others. Because maritime personal injury lawsuits are complicated, lawyers usually handle these type of cases. Many Jones and Longshore Act cases are often settled before they go to trial to avoid costly and time-consuming court proceedings.
Although each case is unique and no law firm can guarantee multimillion dollar settlements for all its clients, there have been several instances where injured maritime workers have received large awards after being injured as a result of negligence or unseaworthiness.
Noteworthy Maritime Personal Injury Settlements
SS Cape Jacob Settlement
In 2013, a seaman received a $2 million settlement after suing the federal government under the Jones Act. The seaman was injured while working aboard the SS Cape Jacob, a break bulk cargo ship operated by Matson Navigation in support of U.S. military operations overseas.
According to his Jones Act lawsuit, the seaman, 58, was injured while securing the Cape Jacob to mooring posts at the port of Jangu, Republic of Korea. the seaman was in the process of tying the ship’s mooring lines to the dock when the Cape Jacob’s captain told the tug which was pulling the ship into Jangu to move away. The tug complied to the Cape Jacob’s captain’s order, unaware that the ship was not completely secured. The plaintiff was injured when one of the mooring lines snapped and struck him. He suffered brain injuries and compound fractures.
The government settled the case with the plaintiff, who was suing for Jones Act compensation. In the suit, the plaintiff named the federal government as a liable party to his accident under the 2011 Clarification Act. He sued the federal government for pain and suffering, lost wages, disability, and medical costs.
Washington Ferry Settlement
In 2008, three Washington State ferry workers received over $1.1 million in compensation after a 2004 incident where they were exposed to chlorine gas while they were cleaning the ferry Tacoma.
The ferry operators had improperly used bleach with packages of an absorbent known as Hi ‘N Dri without checking to see what chemical reactions would happen if the two products were mixed. As the three plaintiffs were at work cleaning one of the Tacoma’s restrooms, the mix of Hi ‘N Dri with bleach caused a dangerous cloud of chlorine gas to form. The three maritime workers suffered serious respiratory illnesses which require treatment for the rest of their lives.
Per local media reports, Kong County Superior Court Judge Glenna Hall noted that the combination of bleach with the absorbent powder had caused all three plaintiffs to suffer from “significant and permanent occupational asthma.” She also said that the chlorine gas which formed aboard the Tacoma had made the ferry unseaworthy at the time. She criticized the ferry operators for improperly storing and using Hi ‘N Dri in combination with bleach, saying that such actions did not constitute a “safe method operation.”
Keep in mind that if you’re a maritime worker and have been injured on the job, you have legal rights as well. For additional resources and information, see our articles Jones Act Lawyer and Maritime Rights and Compensation.