Being out on the open seas overwhelms the senses with a feeling of freedom that’s unlike any other. This sensation, perhaps, is what drives many individuals to craft a career out of their love for the open sea. But while constantly surrounded by beautiful waters, the dream job of working at sea presents several hazards that can turn it into a nightmare.
The maritime industry contains some of the most dangerous jobs in America. For this reason, these workers have specified rights that are meant to assist them after suffering an injury. The counsel of a maritime injury attorney is a prudent investment for those making a living at sea.
Dangers of working at Sea
There’s no doubt that working at sea presents a host of hazards that individuals in other careers rarely, if ever, have to face. A job doesn’t even have to be backbreaking for dangers to exist on the water. This is evidenced merely by looking at the January 2012 Costa Concordia disaster, the partial sinking of an Italian cruise ship. Maritime workers onboard included waitresses, stewards, entertainers and other individuals employed in otherwise run of the mill jobs but hazardous due to being performed on a ship.
It’s also important to note, however, that some maritime work is dangerous even when negligent actions, such as those that led to the Costa Concordia disaster, don’t occur on the ship. In a recent review of workplace fatalities, for instance, it was discovered that being a commercial fisherman was the most dangerous job that anyone could have in America. Slick decks, dangerous weather and working around heavy machinery are just part of the dangers that constantly put fishermen’s lives at risk.
Protections for Maritime Workers
Maritime workers are entitled to what is known as “maintenance and cure” if they’re injured in the line of duty. “Maintenance” refers to small payments meant to reimburse an injured individual for the food and shelter they’d otherwise be receiving on board their vessel if they weren’t injured. “Cure”, on the other hand, is the payment made to ensure that a person receives the proper medical care to get better.
Unfortunately, maintenance and cure payments don’t amount to much. Regardless, an injured maritime worker should immediately inform their employer or captain about any accident and seek medical help. After this, it’s advisable for these workers to seek out the help of an attorney. This is because, unlike worker’s compensation claims, maritime employees can actually recover damages if they are injured due to negligence.
The Jones Act is an umbrella term for several pieces of related legislation enacted from 1916 to 1929, dealing with sailors’ workmen’s compensation and foreign sailing vessels used in domestic trade. Its purpose is meant to ensure that sea workers can bring forth claims against negligent parties if injured on the job. The negligent parties in these cases can range from vessel owners all the way to coworkers. Since maintenance and cure payments are so low, there’s a chance that a maritime worker’s only chance at receiving fair compensation for their injury is to bring forth a Jones Act claim to recover damages.
Maritime work is simultaneously among the most rewarding and most dangerous occupations available. There’s obviously an inherent danger in being out in the middle of a large body of water, but when this is combined with negligence on the part of another individual, the dangers may become too great for someone simply trying to put food on their table. Because of this, it’s imperative for every maritime worker to understand the rights to which they are entitled.
Writer Terry Duschinski has researched through the resources of a maritime injury attorney, Doyle Raizner LLP, in compiling this report.