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Who Are Maritime Lawyers and How They Can Help You

Whether you are a worker on a cruise ship or on another marine vessel, these vessels can be as dangerous as they are exciting.

There’s always a risk when you work on a boat, so it’s important to understand your rights. It’s also important to know that if you were injured on a maritime vessel, you need to hire a maritime law injury attorney that has the knowledge and experience to help you out.

This article will help you better understand what a maritime lawyer does and everything else you need to know about maritime law if you suffered from a maritime injury.

What Do Maritime Lawyers Do?

Understanding what a maritime lawyer does can help you better see why you need to hire one rather than a regular personal injury lawyer.

Maritime lawyers specialize in maritime law as well as boating accidents and maritime injury claims.

Maritime attorneys not only work to protect seamen who may have been injured while on the job, but also anyone who was injured while enjoying recreational boating activities.

A maritime lawyer will handle a variety of tasks associated with maritime injury claims, including:

  • Drafting all of the important documents for maritime cases
  • Working with both parties to negotiate settlements and agreements
  • Taking cases to court if needed
  • Handle complaints regarding illnesses or injuries caused by various maritime vessels as well as any complaints about companies dumping their hazardous waste into a body of water.

These are just some of the things that a maritime lawyer can help with.

Understanding Maritime Law and the Jones Act

Also known as admiralty law, maritime law is known for being among the oldest types of law which has existed since long before the constitution. The first thing that you need to know about maritime law is that it is defined as laws that relate both navigation and commerce “in navigation” on various navigable bodies of water and administered by admiralty courts.

The laws included in maritime laws are both international laws and laws of the United States.

The Jones Act

An important part of maritime law is the Jones Act. Created by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, this act is focused on shipping goods in the US.

This is an act that is primarily in place to protect people who work at sea in case they are injured while they are on the marine vessel. Under the Jones Act workers compensation, workers who are covered can not only recover pain and suffering as a result of their injuries but also any income that was lost as a result of this accident.

If the Jones Act is brought up as part of any claim, there are two things that are considered by your Jones Act attorney.

  • Crew Members Who Are Covered Under the Jones Act

The definition of a seaman is a person who spends much of their time working on a marine vessel. For someone to be covered by this act, their duties must in some way contribute to the accomplishments of the marine vessel. This is a broad definition that can include basically any crew member of the ship.

  • “Vessel in Navigation”

What does it mean when it says, “vessel in navigation”? Just because you work on a boat, that doesn’t mean you qualify for compensation under the Jones Act. The vessel you are on must be “in navigation”, meaning that the boat is floating in navigable waters, able to move, and is currently in operation. A boat that is dry-docked doesn’t count under this law but a boat that is docked while in water does.

Maritime Laws are Complex

Maritime laws are old laws that are highly complex. This is why it’s crucial that you hire a maritime lawyer. They specialize in maritime law, so they better understand the intricacies of these laws. They can ensure that you get the reliable representation that is so important to your legal case to get the best possible outcome.

Common Causes of a Maritime Accident

As a worker on a ship, you are at risk for injury as a result of various dangers on the boat. Many things can happen on a boat, which can lead to some injuries that are minor but also some life-threatening or deadly injuries as well. Accidents on a marine vessel are commonly caused by the following:

  • Trips, Slips, and Falls

One of the most common types of maritime accidents are trips, slips, and falls. Boats are home to plenty of wet surfaces, stairways, and uneven decks. These are hazardous areas that can lead to a variety of potentially serious injuries such as a TBI (traumatic brain injury), spine injuries, and fractures.

  • Hazardous Chemicals

Boats can have hazardous and potentially toxic chemicals on board. These chemicals can be extremely dangerous if they are inhaled, particularly in confined spaces. They can also be corrosive, causing serious injury if they come into contact with your eyes or skin.

  • Objects that Move, Swing, or Fall

The upper decks of ships can be major hub of activities, where goods are loaded and offloaded. Machinery like cranes are on deck to help with this process of moving goods around. However, all of these things can lead to serious injuries, especially due to poor maintenance issues, improperly supervising people, and lack of training new personnel.

  • Enclosed/Confined Spaces

There are various enclosed and confined spaces on the vessel, including the cargo deck, which can be dangerous places to be. These places don’t have proper ventilation, which can be problematic due to things like a lack of oxygen in the space or a buildup of carbon dioxide. These types of spaces also lack any easy rescue or escape access should an issue arise. This can lead to injuries caused by fire, asphyxiation, and poisoning.

  • Burns/Electrical Injuries

Burns and electrical injuries are more common than you would expect on a boat. You could get thermal burns from places like the engine room or the galley. Electrical arcs and explosions can also happen. These things, in combination of other causes for accidents in this case, can lead to very serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

What to Do After a Maritime Accident

What you do after the maritime accident can have a significant impact on the outcomes of your maritime legal case. These types of cases are complex enough when you are using the Jones Act as part of your case. This section will walk you through the immediate steps that you should take after your accident.

Get Medical Help

As soon as you had a workplace accident on the boat, seeking medical care immediately after your accident is important.

If you are out to sea, this means getting first aid while you wait for the ship to get to port. From there, you will want to be transported to the hospital. Even if you don’t feel like you are “that hurt,” you should seek out medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. There may be life-threatening injuries that you didn’t notice at the time due to shock.

If your injuries are severe, the Coast Guard will come out to help you get the medical attention that you need if you are out to sea.

If you are a seaman who is working on the docks, you should call 9-1-1 after your accident to get medical attention right away for serious injuries. If your injuries aren’t as serious, a supervisor or coworker should bring you to the medical facility for treatment.

It’s crucial that you seek out medical attention because not only could your injuries be more serious than you think they are but it’s also important for your legal case. By refusing medical treatment, you are sending a message that you are not really injured even if you really were.

Let Your Employer Know

The Jones Act (as well as the LHWCA) have strict requirements for reporting an accident or injury that occurred while on the job. If you do not follow these requirements, you can risk losing your case. These strict requirements include the following:

  • Crew members only have 7 days to report any accident to their employer.
  • Harbor workers and laborers are required to complete and submit the Form LS-201 to the employer no later than 30 days after the accident.

To be sure that you are following these requirements, it’s essential that you report the injury or accident as soon as possible. By doing this, you can reduce the chances of the insurance carrier and your employer from disputing your claim.

Document Everything

The more evidence that you have for your claim, the better especially when it comes to cases like ones involving the Jones Act. To win these cases, you need to prove 2 things: that the accident and your resulting injuries were the fault of your employer, and the injuries led to damages. As a result, it is crucial that you take the time to document everything.

Things that you should document include:

  • Photographs of where the accident happened, including the dangerous hazards that led to your injuries.
  • Witness statements from coworkers or passengers who saw the injury accident take place. Be sure to get their contact information in case your lawyer needs to contact them.
  • All of your medical records that can that describe the nature of your injuries, as well as the extent of them. Keep a record of all of your doctor’s appointments and keep track of your symptoms and how the injury has disrupted your life.
  • Bills, invoices, and other documentation of expenses that are the direct result of your accident.

You should document everything as soon as you can after the accident. That is because the evidence can quickly disappear on a marine vessel. This evidence will need to be collected before the ship goes to the port. The Jones Act often offers extra compensation, which can make a significant different to the lives of the injured party.

Contact an Attorney

Lastly, contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. You need to contact a lawyer who specializes in maritime law, as these lawyers will understand the unique complexities that comes with these types of cases. This can be especially important for crew members who can end up facing so many different obstacles on their journey of receiving compensation for their injuries.


If you were a passenger on the marine vessel, the same steps apply. The only difference is that you won’t have a claim according to the Jones Act since you are not a seaman.

How the Best Maritime Lawyers Can Help

An accident that has taken place aboard a maritime vessel can be a very difficult case to win. This is why you need to make sure that you hire a lawyer specializing in maritime law. Passengers and seamen are often not aware of what rights they have and what type of compensation that they can receive. The lawyer can take a look at your case, helping to determine what your rights are in your individual case.

They will take a look at your evidence and plan for the next steps if the parties choose to move forward with the case. The goal is to settle outside of court, but a good maritime lawyer will be ready to fight for your best interests in court.

When you are injured after a maritime accident, it’s important that you receive the compensation that you deserve. These accidents can be financially, physically, and emotionally devastating. Every bit of help can ensure that you regain control of your life.


Maritime law can be a complex field, which is why it’s so important to have best maritime injury lawyers with experience on your side. Our team has been fighting maritime cases for a long time, giving us the knowledge and expertise to get you the best possible outcomes. If you or a loved one are a victim of a maritime accident, contact The Injury Firm today to see how we can help you. We offer a no-obligation free consultation to answer any questions that you might have.

Read More: Introduction to Maritime Law

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