West Palm Beach’s economy is largely impacted by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, the maritime industry is a large part of the local economy. Crews on cruise ships, fishing boats, tourist boats, and other vessels help keep that industry thriving. However, these employees often face unique dangers when they go to work.
If you are a maritime worker who suffered an injury while performing your job duties, you could be entitled to financial compensation if another’s negligence caused your injuries. A West Palm Beach maritime injury lawyer can help you understand the facts of your case to help you determine whether you have a viable claim. Call today to schedule a consultation with a seasoned attorney.
Compensation for Maritime Injuries
When an employee suffers an injury at work or develops a job-related illness, they can file a workers’ compensation claim. While state workers’ compensation laws protect most employees across West Palm Beach, maritime workers are not eligible to receive these benefits.
However, this does not mean they are unprotected. Instead of being covered by the state’s workers’ compensation law, most maritime workers are covered by the federal Jones Act of 1920.
Qualifying for a Jones Act Claim
The Jones Act of 1920 protects seamen who suffer injuries while working in American waters – different laws apply to those working in international waters while onboard American vessels. According to the Jones Act, all seamen who sustain an injury or develop an illness in the course of their work can sue a negligent employer who caused the injury or illness.
Legally speaking, most maritime workers are considered seamen. However, injured maritime workers must prove they are seamen to bring a Jones Act claim.
Anyone who does the ship’s work by contributing to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission is a seaman under this law. In other words, any employee who does the work of the ship, whatever that might be, is a seaman and therefore eligible to bring a Jones Act claim. A knowledgeable lawyer could help one know if they are protected by the Jones Act.
Proving an Employer’s Negligence in West Palm Beach
After proving they meet the legal definition of a seaman, an injured maritime worker must then prove their employer acted negligently. This is where maritime injury claims become very similar to other personal injury claims. Any time someone fails to take reasonable action to avoid causing harm to another, that person could be considered negligent. This is true regardless of whether the injured individual was a maritime worker or not.
Common examples of negligence seen aboard ships and other vessels include:
- Unsafe crew quarters
- Requiring crew members to violate safety regulations
- Exposing crew members to hazardous materials, including dangerous chemicals and gasses
- Injuries caused by inadequate training
- Failing to dock safely
- Failing to repair dangerous conditions, such as wet or loose flooring
- Refusing to allow crew members to take needed breaks
- Forcing crew members to work on deck in dangerous weather
An experienced West Palm Beach maritime injury lawyer can help an injured seaman use evidence, witness statements, and experts to prove their employer’s negligence caused their injuries.
Contact a West Palm Beach Maritime Injury Attorney for Help
Maritime work is often incredibly dangerous. Most maritime workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals and conditions on a regular basis. However, when they face unnecessary dangers due to the actions of their employer or co-workers, they may be able to seek compensation.
If you are a deckhand, cruise ship crew member, or another maritime worker who sustained an injury at work, you could be entitled to financial compensation. Call a West Palm Beach maritime injury lawyer now to find out more.