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Longshoremen, seamen and other maritime workers can be injured on the job just like other workers. In fact, many maritime occupations can be at least as hazardous as jobs in the construction industry or other dangerous fields. Maritime workers are generally able to recover for workplace accidents like other employees injured on the job, although in most cases different laws and rules may apply. New York maritime injury lawyer Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. has experience in helping injured individuals recover compensation in all types of personal injury cases, including maritime injuries occurring on the waters in the New York City area.
The Jones Act is a federal law which allows an injured worker on board a ship to sue his or her employer when the negligence of a crew member, the captain or the shipowner caused the injury. Like auto accidents or other negligence cases, the injured worker must prove that the other party was at fault in order to recover damages. The Jones Act applies to longshoremen and other maritime workers and seamen, provided they spend at least 30% of their time in the service of a vessel on navigable waters. The Jones Act applies to all types of vessels – fishing vessels, barges, tugs, ferries, tour boats, and cruise ships.
It is true that a case under the Jones Act is harder to prove than a typical workers’ compensation claim, since you are required to prove that the other party was at fault in causing the injury or accident. However, the scope of damages available is much broader than workers’ comp, including present and future medical expenses, present and future lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. Depending upon the case, a workers’ compensation claim may be appropriate, possibly under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act instead of New York Workers’ Compensation law. This law covers injuries on navigable waters as well as dockworkers and harbor workers, ship-builders and ship-breakers, and other related maritime occupations.
Another path to recovery may be filing a case under the federal seaworthiness standard. Under this standard, it is not necessary to prove that another party was at fault, so long as it can be shown that the vessel was unsafe for its intended purpose when the accident occurred. An unsafe vessel means more than a faulty boat design or defective manufacture. A ship may be unseaworthy if it is missing safety equipment or necessary tools on board, if it is undermanned or if the crew is undertrained or poorly supervised, if the boat is out of compliance with safety standards, or even if the deck was unreasonably slippery or obstructed at the time of the accident. Unlike the Jones Act, which applies to all vessels, the seaworthiness standard is applicable only to commercial boats.
Since the laws are often different when a case involves a maritime accident or injury, it is especially important to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with handling different types of accident cases. For injuries and accidents in New York City harbors and ports, from the Hudson and East Rivers to the Long Island Sound, and into the navigable Atlantic waters on the open sea, contact maritime injury lawyer Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.