Maritime Workplace Injuries

Wagner McLaughlin: Experienced Maritime Lawyers in Tampa

Seamen, Fishermen, and Merchant Mariners

For those who make their living at sea, the work place is an extremely dangerous environment. Injuries are commonplace, but protecting your rights and seeking fair compensation for those injuries can be a difficult and expensive process. It is important that you understand your rights and remedies should an injury occur.

Maintenance and Cure:

Since ancient times and up through today, sailors injured in the service of their vessel have always been entitled to the remedies of maintenance and cure.

MAINTENANCE is the obligation of the vessel owner to compensate the injured seaman for the value of the room and board he or she would be receiving on board the vessel had the injury not occurred. This obligation commences on the date the seaman leaves the ship after the injury.

Maintenance is supposed to equal the amount of money the seaman has to spend for room and board while recovering on shore. However, maintenance rates can be fixed by collective bargaining between the union and the shipowner.

CURE is the obligation of the vessel owner to pay the reasonable medical expenses related to the injury sustained while in the service of the vessel.

The vessel owner is obligated to pay maintenance and cure for any injury that occurs while in the service of the vessel, regardless of who is at fault. It does not matter whether the injury occurs on the vessel or on shore so long as the seaman is injured while doing the ship’s business. The vessel owner is obligated to pay both maintenance and cure until the injured seaman is deemed fit for duty or reaches “maximum cure.” A person reaches maximum cure when the injury will not improve with further treatment.

The injured seaman is also entitled to receive those UNEARNED WAGES he or she would have received if not for the injury. The unearned wages are payable from the date of the injury to the end of the voyage.

Additional Damages:

In addition to maintenance and cure and unearned wages, an injured seaman is often entitled to make a claim for additional damages. These damages include: lost wages and loss of earning capacity; unpaid medical expenses and future medical expenses; pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; mental anguish; inconvenience; and loss of enjoyment of life.
In order to recover these additional damages, injured seamen only need to show that their employer was negligent or that the vessel was unseaworthy. Under the Jones Act, the employer is liable for additional damages for the injury if there is any negligence on the part of the employer’s officers, agents, or employees which caused or contributed to the injury.

Unseaworthiness

The shipowner is liable for a seaman’s injury if the vessel, including its crew, gear, or appurtenances, is not reasonably safe for its intended use. The injured seaman does not need to show that the vessel owner failed to use reasonable care or had knowledge of the unseaworthy condition in order to make a recovery for additional damages.