Merchant Marine Injury Lawyers
Have you been injured while working as a merchant mariner?
Merchant mariners need to be tough, tenacious, and talented. They spend many months at sea in open water under the most adverse of weather conditions.
The stakes are even higher when the ship is fully loaded with cargo. With months spent away from family and friends, the work of a merchant mariner can be a lonely proposition. A merchant mariner that sustains an injury while at sea can be detrimental not only to themselves, but to the entire ship. It is imperative that if you are injured while doing this work that you have an experienced maritime injury attorney that truly understands what being a merchant mariner is all about.
What is the US Merchant Marine?
The US Merchant Marine is an organization that operates the large commercial and civilian vessels that enter American ports and travel the rivers and lakes of the country each year. While not a branch of the military, the Merchant Marine is closely tied to the Navy and Coast Guard. Merchant mariners are a key part of the economy, keeping global shipments flowing smoothly and commercial vessels sailing safely.
Who qualifies as a Merchant Marine?
Merchant seamen are maritime workers who work on vessels shipping passengers or goods across the seas and oceans, including:
- Radio electronics officers
- Cooks and stewards
- Able-bodied seamen
- Ordinary seamen
Merchant Mariner Injuries
Common causes of merchant mariner injuries on the job include:
- Failure to maintain equipment
- Broken equipment
- Lack of safety procedures
- Employers’ dangerous operations
- Mistakes caused by negligence or inattention
- Unseaworthiness of the vessel
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Maritime Law and Compensation
While merchant mariners may be owed workers’ compensation benefits after an accident, they may also be able to file a lawsuit for their injury costs if they are covered under maritime law. Some maritime laws provide wage replacement and medical payments, while others allow workers to act against vessel owners if unsafe conditions caused the accident. Merchant mariners could be owed compensation under the four categories listed to the right:
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is one of the most comprehensive sources of maritime employee injury benefits, as it allows workers to collect maintenance and cure as well as the ability to file negligence and unseaworthiness claims against shipowners. Merchant mariners may be covered under the Jones Act if they were injured while on a vessel with which they had a standing work relationship. This may apply to a merchant mariner who has been assigned to a vessel for a certain duration—such as a port-to-port journey—or only performs activities for one vessel in navigation.
Merchant mariners who are employed by a contracting company may be covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. This insurance is particularly useful to contracted seaman who suffer injuries during voyages or activities on land, which may be excepted under the Jones Act.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)
Freelance or contracted merchant mariners who do not qualify for Jones Act benefits may be covered under the LHWCA, which provides wage replacement benefits based on the seaman’s average weekly salary.
Any person who suffers an injury at sea has certain rights under general maritime law – including the right to file lawsuits for products liability and wrongful death.
What should I do if I have been injured at sea?
First and foremost – seek medical attention. If you have been injured due to negligence, it is important that you get an experienced maritime lawyer working on your injury case right away.
Injury at Sea maintains a staff of marine accident investigators with ties to maritime communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. We will start investigating your case right away. Moreover, we will fight to obtain the most you are allowed under maintenance and cure, which provides a stipend for you to survive while you are recuperating from your injury.
The attorneys of Injury At Sea can explain your best options if you were hurt working as a merchant seaman. We can make sure you receive what you are entitled to under the law, including past and future medical bills, past and future wages, pain and suffering damages, physical disfigurement, and maintenance and cure payments.
Contact our maritime attorneys today and tell us your story. Our firm is located in Seattle and has more than 80 years of collective experience representing clients located in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California. Call us today for a no-obligation assessment of your case.
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