General Maritime Law Claims Processes
Injured seamen have various laws under which to file claims for compensation in the event they are injured during the course of their work related duties. Different laws will apply depending on the type of employment as well as the cause of the injury. General maritime law allows seamen to collect maintenance and cure, and to file suits for unseaworthiness in the event that a flaw in the vessel is the cause of the injury or illness the seaman suffered. Other laws likely apply as well, such as the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. Regardless of the claim you end up filing, you should always report your injury promptly.
Claims for maintenance and cure
Maintenance and cure claims are based common law. The remedies under this form of claim are limited to unearned wages for the voyage in which the injury occurred, room and board during the course of recovery, and medical care related to the injury. These benefits must be paid only until the point of maximum medical improvement, which is to say, until the individual is not expected to heal or recover more than they have. This is true even if the injury still impacts the individual.
While the benefits afforded in maintenance and cure are limited, the goal of the law is to make the payment of this support straight forward, and easy for the injured seaman to recover. Seeking maintenance and cure from one’s employer should not be difficult. Because maintenance and cure is not fault based, the only burdens to prove are that the injured person was a seaman employed on the vessel and that he or she was injured in the course of his or her duties in the scope of that employment.
Oftentimes unions set the rate for maintenance, other times employers put it in their contracts, although this practice might not always be deemed enforceable. You may wish to send a letter stating your expenses, that is, food and lodging, not phone bills or car payments, to your employer in order to set the rate at the actual amount you require. The payments for cure are based on the medical treatment required for the injury sustained.
Your employer has a motivation to pay the maintenance and cure rather than fight the request. Employers who wrongfully deny claims for maintenance and cure can be faced with the need to pay additional remedies to the injured party including compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Filing a claim for unseaworthiness
An unseaworthiness claim is a civil lawsuit that an injured seaman may file if he or she is injured as the result of a part of the vessel he or she worked on not being fit for the purpose it was intended for. The liable party in an unseaworthiness law suit is the owner of the vessel. Oftentimes this individual will also be the employer, but not necessarily. The owner has an absolute duty to provide seamen with a seaworthy vessel. The failure to do so, even in the absence of negligence or knowledge of the defect, will make the owner liable for injuries caused by the unseaworthy part of the vessel.
This type of case is handled as a civil personal injury lawsuit, and many times it will be filed together with a claim based on the Jones Act, which is a law regarding injuries to seamen resulting the negligence of their employers.
The remedies available in an unseaworthiness claim include medical expenses, loss of income, compensation for disability, and pain and suffering.
If you are a seaman and you have been injured in the course of your work, you should contact an experienced maritime law attorney to discuss the best way for you to pursue compensation from your employer.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you in orde rto find the best strategy for seeking compensation for your maritime employment related injuries. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced attorney.