The history of maritime work in Mississippi is long, highlighting the important role that seamen have played in the development of our communities. With over 15 ports throughout the state, Mississippi depends heavily on this industry for the health of its economy and access to much-needed goods.
However, those who work in maritime jobs are at risk for injury or even death every single day. Because of this, those who work in this industry are protected by different laws and statutes outside the basic workers’ compensation system. These laws acknowledge the risk that maritime workers take and compensate for that risk by allowing greater access to compensation.
If you or someone you love has been hurt while working in a maritime job, you need an experienced maritime attorney. A lawyer with experience in standard workers’ compensation cases may not have the background or experience necessary to take on maritime cases. That’s where we can help. Contact Reeves & Mestayer at 228-300-2754 to discuss your case in greater detail.
Today’s U.S. maritime law is based on very old laws and traditions. It is a very complicated area of the law and can even be confusing for seasoned attorneys. That is why if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a maritime accident you need the help of an experienced maritime attorney.
Injured Maritime Workers
Maritime work is dangerous work and carries a very high risk of serious injury and death. There are two main avenues of compensation for injured maritime workers:
There are some very important differences between the two and you may need the help of an experienced maritime law attorney just to figure out which one applies to you.
The Jones Act covers workers who are classified as “seamen.” Under the Jones Act you can receive very basic benefits such as maintenance and cure without having to prove fault. You can also sue for substantial compensation for your injuries, but you will have to prove fault.
LHWCA does not require you to prove fault but does not provide as much compensation as the Jones Act. LHWCA applies to maritime workers who are not considered seamen. This includes, but is not limited to dock workers, ship builder, and others in the industry who do not normally work out at sea.
Loved one of maritime workers who died from their injuries can claim compensation as well. If your loved one dies from injures that were incurred at least three nautical miles from shore, you may have a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act. In other cases, you may be able to sue for wrongful death under the Jones Act.
Unseaworthiness is the basis for a large portion of maritime claims. Vessel owners have a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Failure to do so is considered negligence under the law.
Unseaworthiness refers to far more than just the likelihood of a vessel to sink due to age, damage, or disrepair. It can include:
- Incompetent or dangerous crew members
- Unsafe food preparation
- Inadequate food supplies
- Slippery surfaces
- Lack of safety equipment, such as firefighting or life-saving equipment
- Understaffed vessel
- Poor policies and procedures
- Dangerous equipment
Maintenance and Cure
Maintenance and cure, as referred to in the Jones Act section, is perhaps the most widely used compensation system for those injured in the maritime sector. There are two components to it. Maintenance refers to the ongoing payments that an injured employee receives while they heal. Cure refers to the funds an individual gets for their medical bills and related expenses. This allows an injured worker to get compensation regardless of fault. They do not have to prove that the employer was at fault for their injuries, nor do they have to demonstrate that they did not cause their injuries.
In some situations, an individual’s right to compensation may go above and beyond maintenance and cure. If another individual was directly responsible for the victim’s injuries, the victim may be able to get more compensation than what is allowed under maintenance and cure.
Areas Subject to Maritime Laws
Maritime law is a complex area of law, and the specific location of an accident can determine which laws apply and which types of compensation are available. Areas that may be subject to maritime laws include:
- Bodies of water
In many situations, it all comes down to details. This is another reason you need an attorney with specialized knowledge and experience in maritime law.
Our firm assists clients from all types of maritime accidents, including those occurring on cruise ships, riverboats, supply boats, freighters, barges, tankers, crew boats, and fishing boats.
Types of Injuries Arising from Maritime Accidents
Those who work in maritime settings are expected to be in excellent health. Maritime jobs are physically and often mentally demanding, and because of this, an injury could leave you unable to work in your chosen field for the rest of your life. Injuries that may occur in maritime accidents include:
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burns or skin damage
- Compartment Syndrome
If an injury impacts your ability to perform your work duties, it’s likely that you’ll be unable to return to a maritime job even after you reach maximum improvement. This can be devastating to someone who has dedicated their life to working aboard a vessel. It can also cause serious financial issues. This is why it’s crucial to work with a maritime accident attorney who can ask for an amount appropriate to cover your medical expenses, lost work opportunities, and other related expenses. You have spent your career building Mississippi’s economy; you should not be left behind due to an injury.
- Death on the High Seas Act
- Maintenance and Cure
- Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977 or contact us online. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.