Written by Ben Bronston at 361lawyers.com
Whether you’re enjoying a luxury cruise, riding the waves for fun or out on the open sea for work, you don’t want to be caught off-guard if you get hurt while you’re on a boat or ship. If you’re a worker, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the so-called “Jones Act”) was passed in order to provide an avenue to compensation should you get injured on the job. The Jones Act applies to you so long as your job assignments are necessary for the ship or boat to fulfill its purpose or mission. In other words, you’d better be employed and not freeloading.
If you work on land in a similar waterfront position, then different laws apply to you. Naturally, there are also exceptions and exclusions to those eligible for protections under specific laws like the Jones Act or even General Maritime law. Regardless, most everyone has some sort of legal recourse in order to recoup personal injury damages sustained while at sea.
If you’re on a cruise, the chances are the cruise ship you were riding has specific policies regarding incidents such as these and the cruise line is liable for any accidents that occur through the company’s negligence. General Maritime law helps ensure your protection if you’re simply a passenger. Either way, check with an experienced maritime attorney to find out which laws and legal regulations best apply to your potential case, and how you can approach the battle for compensation.
The open sea is a dangerous place no matter why you’re there, and some injuries are more common than others. You should be familiar with what they are and how they occur. As always, the best protection is familiarity with the dangers of any given situation. Here are just a few of the most common injuries.
Depending on the size of the vessel, it might be harder for you to maintain your balance – even if you’re very familiar with sea travel. Bigger ships won’t wobble as much in rough chop, while small boats might seem like they’re about to capsize even when they’re not. If panic sets in, you’re far more likely to make a mistake that will result in injury. If you trip and fall, you might sustain broken bones, spinal injuries, head trauma, cuts and bruises, or even brain damage. When working at sea, the first thing you should remember is to remain calm at all times – even if the situation seems to warrant a different reaction.
One of the scariest things about sustaining an injury while at sea is the slow response time for treatment. If you can’t obtain medical attention quickly enough, your injuries may worsen substantially. Suffice it to say, it isn’t entirely uncommon for seafaring workers to end their careers prematurely because of debilitating injuries like paralysis or coma. Death isn’t out of the question, either.
For these reasons, workers should familiarize themselves with their jobs and the safety records of their employers, and learn as much as they can about what to expect while at sea. If the worst happens, maritime law is at your disposal to guide you through the legal process required to obtain compensation for you!