When Should I Hire a Maritime Lawyer?
There are specific maritime laws that are used for people who are in the employee of a vessel in navigable waters. These laws include both domestic (U.S.) and international laws to cover a wide array of topics, including:
- Workplace Personal Injury Claims
- Maintenance and Cure Claims
- Seaman’s Wage Act Claims
- Salvage Operations
- Vessel Insurance
- Unseaworthiness Claims
- Shipping Brokerage
- Maritime/Vessel Liens
- Vessel Seizure
- Jones Act Claims
- Passenger Claims
- Cargo Claims
Unlike existing laws used “on land,” many of the maritime laws have additional provisions, protections, or other such features that vary based on the area of maritime law and circumstances.
For instance, the Jones Act provides protections for workplace injuries, such as a drilling rig accident. Unlike conventional personal injury law, claims filed under the Jones Act are not based entirely on fault. Courts will still hear claims even when an employee was partially at fault for their injuries.
Since maritime laws are much more complex, it is always in your interest to hire a maritime lawyer to handle legal matters relating to these types of laws, as well as personal injury claims.
The Steps to Take if You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured while in the service of a vessel, there are specific steps you should follow to protect your rights and interests:
- Step 1: Report the accident. No matter how minor the injury, you need to report it to your employer.
- Step 2: Complete an accident report. Before signing the report, read and review it to verify it is accurate. If it is not, do not sign it.
- Step 3: Seek medical treatment for your injuries. Your employer should allow you to seek treatment, no matter the extent of the injuries.
- Step 4: Gather evidence. If possible, take pictures of where the accident took place, or have a co-worker do this. You should also record and document all information and details about the accident in a journal while they are still fresh in your mind.
- Step 5: Do not sign or agree to anything unless you know your rights. Your employer may attempt to get you to sign documents or make recordings in efforts to get you to agree to a settlement or acknowledge you will not seek further damages against them.
- Step 6: Consult with your own maritime lawyer. Your employer may tell you that you do not need to talk to a lawyer. They may give the impression that you can work everything out on your own.
Don’t be fooled, as your employer probably already has consulted with the company’s doctors, insurance agents, and lawyers and has been instructed them on how to get you to settle your injury claim for the least amount of money.
The Process of Filing a Lawsuit
Upon consulting with a maritime lawyer, if you have grounds for filing a lawsuit against your employer, there will be additional steps to complete. Your lawyer will ask you to provide various documentation and evidence. This is why remembering to follow the above steps is important. If you have been injured and are considered a maritime worker, please contact Johnson Garcia LLP at 832-241-5465 today to learn more and get the assistance you need to protect your rights.