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Common Maritime Injuries and Liability

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Common Maritime Injuries and Liability

Written by™


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When an injury occurs on the water, a special set of rules apply. Personal injury claims in this situation are referred to as maritime or admiralty claims, and they often require the experience of a maritime lawyer to file them. Some activities where injuries occur and these types of claims are applicable include cruise ships, snorkeling and SCUBA outings, sailboat tours, as well as crew member injuries due to equipment and/or rough seas etc.

Injuries which occur to crew members due to negligence on the part of the boat owner or employer fall under something called the Jones Act, a federal law that allows an injured crew member to file a personal injury/maritime claim against their employer when safe work conditions are not provided or maintained.

There are a variety of common injuries which occur uniquely on the ocean and often overlap each other:

  • Falling overboard can cause a variety of injuries including broken bones and hypothermia
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Injuries in enclosed spaces such as cargo holds and access routes
  • Chemical burns
  • Electrical shocks
  • Machinery fires and/or explosions
  • Repetitive motion injuries sustained when a maritime worker is required to perform the same task over and over again
  • Fishing injuries
  • Injuries occurring on docks and piers due to heavy cargo, slippery walkways, and vehicle collisions due to unaware drivers
  • Gangway falls
  • Sound pollution injuries
  • Illness caused by improperly canned/preserved food

Heavy equipment, unsecured cargo, crowded storage rooms, and seawater everywhere create the perfect recipe for accidents to occur. This is exactly why there are a wide variety of strict safety guidelines in place for cruise lines, fishing boats, recreational service boats, and anyone else on the water to follow. When someone fails to follow these safety guidelines and another person is injured as a result, that party is liable for any damages incurred as a result; most often, this ends up being the employer or boat owner.

Common examples of maritime safety neglect:

  • Failing to provide and/or enforce adequate safety training for anyone on the water
  • Failing to properly maintain or repair equipment
  • Failing to enforce safety protocols
  • Overworking crew members
  • Failing to provide required rest breaks to crew members
  • Failing to ensure non-skid surfaces on deck
  • Failing to clear debris from the deck
  • Failing to take safety precautions in rocky waters or adverse weather

If an injury occurs to a crew member or passenger due to any of the above, or any other potential types of neglect, the injured party is eligible to file a personal injury claim against that boat owner or employer. If you want to learn more about maritime law or discuss your eligibility for a maritime claim, seek legal counsel from an experienced maritime lawyer.

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