Have you suffered injuries working at sea? If so, you may qualify for a maritime claim. If you were injured at the river or dock, you may still have a maritime claim on your hands. Although workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims, and maritime claims can be similar in many aspects, there are some key differences between the laws of the land and the laws of the sea. They do, however, have one thing in common. The victim of the claim seeks to obtain justice and compensation for his or her injuries.
Unfortunately, the average person likely will not be able to predict in which category his or her claim will fall. That is where an experienced maritime law attorney can assist you. The information below will help explain maritime law a little further so you can be prepared for your first consultation with your attorney.
What is Maritime Law?
Maritime law is sometimes called admiralty law and involves the legislation that governs behavior on water. This may include how business is conducted as well as how people interact with one another in water-based settings and situations. Although maritime laws were once intended to govern only ocean based activities, it now includes all navigable waters including those used for interstate and foreign commerce.
State vs. Federal Jurisdiction
Another particularly confusing area of maritime law, particularly in Texas, is whether the case should be resolved in a state or federal court. According to some statutes, federal courts remain in control over all matters of maritime law. However, federal law allows for joint and several liability. This means that plaintiffs may file a case in a state court even if the case qualifies to be filed in a federal court under federal legislation.
When hearing a maritime case in a state court, the state court must apply federal laws for substantive matters. Federal and state cases both have their own unique disadvantages and advantages, and your attorney can help you decide which option is best for you.
What are Some Types of Maritime Claims?
Maritime claims can vary significantly and can occur on almost any body of water, and in some situations, on land. Examples of maritime claims include:
- Commercial shipping or fishing accidents
- Slip and fall accidents that occur on cruises, ferries, and other passenger vessels
- Accidents that involve equipment such as cranes and forklifts that are located near or on navigable waters
- Overboard falls
- Chemical exposure due to working with toxic cargo
- Repetitive use injuries
The Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Many of the above examples would fall under the Jones Act which provides protections for Americans who are working at sea. Under this act, maritime employees who are injured while working are able to obtain compensation from their employer. Those who qualify can also bring a negligence case against their employer, something that is significantly different from a traditional workers’ compensation claim.
Employees who are not covered under the Jones Act are often able to obtain damages through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act that covers employees who are injured while working at a dock, terminal, pier, harbor, or other facility that is near or on navigable waters.
Contact a Maritime Law Attorney Today
If you feel that you have suffered a maritime injury and are entitled to benefits, you need to call an experienced attorney who handles maritime law. The attorneys at Kolodny Law Firm have extensive experience with maritime law and will work to get you the benefits that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.