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Maritime Law FAQs

What is Maritime Law and how is it different from regular personal injury?

Sailors, seamen and vessel workers have extremely dangerous jobs and, as a result, are considered “wards of the Court” entitled to special law and special protection.  Maritime law can implicate a lot of different laws, including the Jones Act, Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Death on the High Seas Act, general maritime law, state law and Cruise ship safety law.

Typically, offshore workers have three years to file suit, though that is not always the case.  If you work on a vessel in navigation or are tied to a vessel or fleet of vessels and your job is in service of the vessel, you are likely a Jones Act Seaman, which entitles you to some of the most favorable law in the country.  Basically, if a Jones Act Seaman is injured by the ship, a co-employee, or his employer, he or she should be compensated for all damages received.  Being a Jones Act Seaman has other advantages, as well.  For example, you are entitled to maintenance and cure, and if you do not receive maintenance and cure, your offshore lawyer can bring a suit for that too.

I have been injured working offshore – what should I do?

The first thing you need to do is get medical care. If your employer did not set you up with a doctor, or if you don’t trust the company doctor, go see one of your choosing.  If you can’t pay for a doctor, call the Merman Law Firm and we will help you get medical care. Next, once your injury is stable, you need to hire the best offshore injury lawyer you can find. The law is on your side, but time is not. You need a good offshore injury lawyer to investigate the scene and interview witnesses as soon as possible. There is a special law that protects offshore workers that allow your offshore injury attorney to attach the ship and protect your rights. Time is important for other reasons, too. You only have a certain amount of time to file your case, called a statute of limitations, which will cause your case to get dismissed if you file too late.

There are some things you should do immediately to help your offshore injury lawyer protect you. Make notes of your injuries, who may have witnessed your accident, who your supervisor was, who you think was in control of the thing that hurt you, who might have known about the potential danger you encountered, all the doctors you have seen, and all the information you have about your employer and the vessel owner. These are crucial pieces of information that only you have and that you could forget over time.  

DO NOT GIVE ANY STATEMENTS AND DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING that your experienced offshore lawyer has not reviewed and approved.  

I was injured on a cruise ship, do I have a case?

If you are a passenger on a cruise ship, the cruise ship owes you a duty of safe transportation. If the cruise ship took on passengers at a U.S. port, the U.S. Coast Guard requires that each adhere to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which regulates crew competency, navigation safety, lifesaving equipment, and fire protection (to name but a few). 

Moreover, cruise ships departing from U.S. ports are considered “common carriers” and subject to stricter laws and duties. Basically, the ship has a duty to get you safely to wherever you are going. Cruise ships can also be liable for people disappearing from a cruise ship if they do not perform an adequate search and rescue operation.  

As with any case, the question of “do I have a case” depends on the facts. You need the best cruise ship lawyer to investigate your case. At the Merman Law Firm, we have a strict, free consultation policy that ensures you will talk to an experienced cruise ship lawyer at no charge.