Like the open seas, maritime law is a complex realm to navigate. When it comes to personal injuries at sea or on inland waters, Brady / Donahue offers their expertise to ensure that you receive proper compensation. If you have been injured on a boat, cruise ship, or other water-related vessel, these frequently asked questions will guide you in the right direction.


1) What Personal Injuries are Covered Under Maritime Law?

Regarding personal injuries, Maritime law is divided into two main categories: General Maritime Law - also known as Admiralty Law, and the Jones Act.


2) What is the Difference Between Maritime Law, Admiralty Law, and the Jones Act?

The terms Maritime Law and Admiralty Law are used interchangeably to define the body of law that governs accidents or injuries which occur on or near navigable waters. The Jones Act is a federal regulation that specifically refers to the rights and compensations that are guaranteed to maritime workers who suffer an accident due to negligence by their employer. In order to have a valid claim under the Jones Act, a maritime worker must be classified as a “seaman.” Each section of maritime law contains specific requirements and classifications for compensation. As such, choosing a lawyer who is equipped with extensive knowledge regarding maritime law is extremely important.


3) Who Classifies as a Seaman?

In general, a Seaman is anyone who works on a ship in navigable waters. Seamen do not receive regular worker’s compensation, which is why General Maritime Law and the Jones Act are so important.


4) What is Considered Navigable Waters?

Navigable Waters are any body of water that a vessel can traverse. When involved with a Jones Act case, navigable waters might also refer to bodies of water, either the ocean or inland navigable waters that serve as interstate or foreign commerce.


5) What is a “Seaworthy” Vessel?

For many Jones Act cases, a ship owner may also be liable if their vessel is not seaworthy.  The ship must be structurally sound, provide proper safety equipment and facilities, and maintain a properly trained crew. If a seaman suffers an injury due to an unsafe vessel, they may be able to make a claim for unseaworthiness.


6) What About Medical Bills?

If you are a Jones Act Seaman, your employer is required to pay your medical bills and the value of your room and board on the vessel, as “maintenance and care” under the Maritime Law. If you have a Maritime Personal Injury claim but are not a Jones Act Seaman, your lawyer will help you present your medical bills, and other damages as part of your claim.


7) What Do I Do After an Injury?

The first step to take after an injury is getting proper medical assistance. It is important to seek medical help right away. Your case could be compromised if medical attention is not sought immediately. The statute of limitations for maritime law cases is generally three years.  For an incident regarding a government vessel, it is only two years. Make sure everything is documented via pictures and/or reports to ensure coverage. If you are a worker, fill out an accident report and make sure your supervisor is aware of the injury. Finally, seek legal assistance or advice from an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about Maritime Law. At Brady Donahue, we are committed to fighting for justice and helping all workers and passengers receive the compensation they deserve.


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