Admiralty Law Accidents (Jones Act/Unseaworthiness)

As the home of two major ports (Port of Miami and Port Everglades) servicing both cargo and cruise ships, and a prominent playground for pleasure craft, South Florida experiences more than its share of ship and boating accidents. These types of  accidents fall under the umbrella known as Admiralty Law, a fascinating and complex field involving numerous legal principles.

An individual's on-board status dictates which legal principles apply in any given case. Accidents involving crew members fall under the Jones Act (seaman vs. employer) and the law of unseaworthiness (seaman vs. vessel owner and/or operator), while passenger accidents aboard cruise ships and small pleasure craft apply a different set of legal principles.

Employment aboard seagoing vessels is extremely dangerous. Demanding work and Mother Nature make for perilous conditions. Serious accidents are commonplace. Given the unique dangers and risks associated with maritime work, relatively worker friendly laws have evolved to protect seamen from employer negligence. 

While recovering from their injuries, crew members should receive   Maintenance & Cure benefits from the employer or its insurance carrier. These benefits are available until the injured ship worker reaches maximum medical cure, defined as the point beyond which there is no reasonable expectation of further improvement. Injured seamen may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Paying this compensation will be the responsibility of the employer, the ship owner, and/or the entity controlling the operation of the vessel.

Cruise ship passengers may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Unlike crew members, however, they are not entitled to Maintenance & Cure benefits. Fault and damages are determined by standards similar to traditional land-based negligence laws. Cruise ship passengers, in particular, must be concerned about a very short statute of limitations period, typically one year. Accidents common to passengers include sexual assault, food poisoning, slip & fall.

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We handle our Maritime Law cases on a contingent basis, meaning that our clients incur no expenses until we win the case. Our able staff speaks English, Spanish, and Creole.

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