The State of Washington is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Washington's area is 71,362 square miles, of which 66,544 sq. mi. is land and 4,757 sq. mi. is water.
The maritime industry in Washington state covers a wide variety of job roles, including – but not limited to – fishermen, longshoremen, deckhands, cruise ship workers, harbor workers, engineers, pilots and cooks. Regardless of the job, there are unique occupational hazards that come with roles in the maritime industry. Serious injury sustained at sea, or on other bodies of water, is not only possible, but common. Unfortunately, maritime deaths also happen too frequently.
Because of the nature of the industry, maritime workers require special legal protections. And it’s important to note that maritime law is unique, with parts of it even seen as archaic. As such, if you have been injured on the job, you will need the services of an experienced maritime injury lawyer in Washington. Accidents happen and will sometimes be covered by employers’ insurance, but it is often the case that there is negligence involved. If you are trying to get compensation for an injury as a seafarer, then contacting an offshore injury lawyer in Washington can help you understand your rights to that compensation.
The best maritime injury law firms in Washington will employ expert attorneys, those who have an understanding of your compensation rights and have specialist insight into maritime law. Working at sea does not afford the same rights for compensatory benefits from employers after injury (or illness) as land-based jobs. However, under the Jones Act, maritime workers have the right to sue their employers for compensation when injuries have occurred on the job.
Notable maritime payout settlements include:
The Jones Act was first enacted in 1920, but it was later updated for the modern maritime industry in 2006. It is part of federal law, and it usually acts as the main reference point for seafarers’ legal rights when pursuing compensation. However, there are other federal laws that both supplement and are separate from the Jones Act. For instance, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is designed to protect those workers who may not be classified as seamen. And, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) allows a spouse, child or parent to recover compensation should a loved one die at sea. Again, if you are unsure of which areas of the law cover your particular maritime injury case, contact a maritime lawyer for expert advice.
The Jones Act sets out that maritime workers have three years from the date of the incident, the discovery of the injury, or the diagnosis of an illness to file a maritime personal injury lawsuit against their employers. But we should stress this is just a general guide, and it is thus worth getting specialist maritime legal representation to see if you can pursue a claim. Indeed, even if three years have elapsed since being injured at sea, it is still worth contacting maritime injury legal experts as they may still be able to move forward with your claim.
The amount of compensation you receive for an offshore injury claim will depend on the extent of injuries, the amount of negligence on the part of your employer, as well as a myriad of other factors. There have been many high-profile maritime injury payouts in recent years that have seen claimants receive millions of dollars in compensation.
One of the most important areas of liability of maritime employers is a concept called “maintenance and cure.” In short, your employer is legally obligated to provide maintenance – financial aid for rent/mortgage, utilities, food and general living expenses – and care – reasonable medical expenses. Maintenance and care is provided regardless of whose fault the accident was. Because of the nature of offshore work, employers will have specialist insurance. But it should not be taken as a given that insurance companies will provide the financial compensation you are legally entitled to after an injury at sea.
However, if the injury is caused due to negligence on the part of your employer, you may be entitled to further compensation through a maritime injury compensation claim. It’s worth remembering that negligence is a very broad legal term, and it might not always become clear that your employer was at fault until the case is examined by an expert in maritime injury law in Washington state.
Working offshore can be dangerous, but there is an invisible social contract between America’s maritime workers, their employers, and the federal government. That means every precaution should be taken to protect workers working on or near the water. While the Jones Act points out that maritime work is hazardous by its very nature, it also unequivocally states that maritime workers have the right to work in the safest environment possible. If the employer has not done their utmost to fulfil their side of the bargain, then you could – and should – pursue a personal injury claim with a maritime attorney in Washington.
There can be many reasons to pursue a maritime injury claim due to negligence on behalf of the employer. This can include vessels being unseaworthy, i.e., having broken or faulty parts or missing equipment – anything that the vessel should have in place to ensure your safety. The same rules should apply to equipment used onshore, such as cranes. Employers can also be negligent in terms of the training given to you or other crew members. Fatigue, being forced to work when unwell, and a significant number of other factors can constitute employer negligence if you get injured on the job.
As mentioned earlier, maritime law is a specialist field. To fully understand what your rights are and how much compensation you can get from a maritime injury lawsuit, you should speak to an expert in offshore injury claims.
The maritime industry in the United States spans many different sectors and job roles, some of which are markedly different; a role as a cook on a luxury cruise ship is very different to the duties of a longshoreman on a busy port, for example. Gray areas can exist in terms of the application of the law, your jurisdiction, what constitutes a maritime injury, and even the definition of a maritime worker. Getting the correct legal advice from a maritime lawyer will untangle those complications.
We can help connect you with a qualified maritime personal injury lawyer in your state. Simply fill out the free evaluation form, and you will be able to get the advice you need to start pursuing your claim.
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