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What Is the Maritime Administration (MARAD)?

It’s certainly not a radical statement to say that the maritime sector in the United States plays an essential role in the maintenance of the nation’s economy and its military force. Corporations rely on the maritime transportation system to deliver goods safely and efficiently across the country and to foreign lands. In addition, the merchant marine serves the dual role of promoting maritime commerce and providing auxiliary support to national defense and emergency response efforts.

Given the centrality of the maritime sector, it makes sense that its various activities and responsibilities would be coordinated by a federal agency. This is where the Maritime Administration (MARAD) comes into the picture.

MARAD is one of the agencies controlled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (others include the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration), and throughout its history, it has proven to be highly effective in overseeing the waterborne transportation sector. For maritime employees, understanding what MARAD does is important, as this organization touches on a wide range of matters relevant to this industry.

Maritime Administration

A Brief History of the Maritime Administration

The United States Maritime Administration was formed in 1950 in order to take over many of the regulatory responsibilities that had been handled by the recently dissolved United States Maritime Commission, which had been founded in 1936.

In 1961, MARAD expanded its scope of duties by assuming control of subsidization of the construction of merchant ships, a task that had previously been managed by the United States Federal Maritime Board (1950-1961). MARAD became an official administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 1981, and it has remained under the oversight of this federal cabinet department ever since.

History of the Maritime Administration

The Maritime Administrator

The head of MARAD is known as the Maritime Administrator. The occupant of this office reports to the Secretary of Transportation and advises them on matters pertaining to the U.S. maritime industry. Additionally, the Maritime Administrator serves as Commandant of the United States Maritime Service, the Chairperson of the Maritime Subsidy Board, and Director of the National Shipping Authority.

At the present time, the position of Maritime Administrator is held by Rear Admiral Mark H. “Buz” Buzby, USN, Ret., formerly president of the National Defense Transportation Association, who was officially sworn in on August 8, 2017.

Role of Maritime Administration

The Role(s) of the Maritime Administration

In 2017, MARAD commanded an operating budget of $399 million and employed more than 750 personnel, who were spread among MARAD headquarters, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and various fleet sites and gateway offices.1 These dedicated professionals are involved with supporting and managing many different facets of the maritime sector in America.

Let’s explore the some of the activities in which MARAD is engaged as part of its mission to promote the U.S. waterborne transportation sector.

  • Cargo Regulation – MARAD has the task of overseeing the transportation of the nation’s military and agricultural cargo in accordance with all applicable laws and statutes. Among these laws are the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, which mandates that at least 50% of cargo generated by the government be carried on privately owned commercial vessels that fly the U.S. flag, and the Military Cargo Preference Act of 1904, which requires all water-transported items intended for military use to be carried by vessels that fly the U.S. flag. To address the need for the ready availability of U.S.-flag, Jones Act-qualified ships, MARAD routinely assists public entities in their efforts to locate such vessels.
  • The Office of Maritime Security – Another MARAD department, the Office of Maritime Security is involved with various efforts to protect the maritime industry from pirates, terrorists, and other criminal threats. MARAD has aided the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Coast Guard in their attempts to combat piracy on the high seas in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Furthermore, the Office is involved with efforts to enforce the National Maritime Domain Awareness Plan (2013), intended to bolster maritime security on the global level, and provides support to the DHS in allocating port security grants to entities at the local and state levels.
  • Office of Safety – This MARAD department is involved with developing safety standards for the national and international maritime industry, as well as promoting advances in practices and technology to protect the welfare of maritime personnel.
  • Port Conveyance and Port Licensing Programs – MARAD helps federal agencies and departments comply with the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, which compels such entities to transfer unneeded property to other agencies that need it. Since the 90s, the Administration has also had the authority to convey this property to state and local governments for the development of port facilities. In addition, MARAD licenses offshore liquefied natural gas and oil import/export port facilities in accordance with the Deepwater Port Act of 1974.
  • National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) – MARAD manages this small fleet of inactive ships for the purpose of providing auxiliary support, as needed, for national emergency response efforts. As of July 31, 2014, the NDRF consisted of 114 ships.2
  • Ready Reserve Force (RRF) – Since 1976, MARAD’s Ready Reserve Force has served a backup support for the U.S. armed forces, especially the Army and Marine Corps. The RRF has been involved in Operation Desert Storm and the Hurricane Katrina response effort.
  • Ship Disposal and Dismantling – MARAD runs a Ship Disposal Program to enable the agency to safely dispose of old vessels that are no longer adequate for national security purposes. The agencies achieve this goal through sales to domestic ship recyclers, participation in the U.S. Navy’s SINKEX “live fire” training exercises, and providing vessels for use as artificial offshore reefs.
  • Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI) – The agency takes part in Title XI financing, which is intended to bolster the U.S. merchant marine by funding the construction (or reconstruction) of vessels in compliance with environmentally friendly policies. The Program gives ship owners the opportunity to purchase vessels at affordable rates (low interest and long repayment terms) from U.S. shipyards. It also provides financial support to shipyards seeking to modernize their facilities.
  • The United States Merchant Marine Academy – MARAD is responsible for administrating the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), in Kings Point, NY. This is one of the five military academies charged with the task of producing commissioned officers for the various armed forces. Graduates of the Academy go on to serve in the merchant marine or in the U.S. military. MARAD also provides funding to California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and Texas A&M Maritime Academy.
  • The MARAD History Program – The Maritime Administration is also involved in preserving its own history, as well as that of the U.S. maritime industry as a whole. To that end, it operates the American Merchant Marine Museum and, through the Maritime Administration Artifact Loan Program, lends valuable historical artifacts to non-profit organizations and other public museums. It also maintains the MARAD Vessel History Database, which has data on over 12,000 vessels, past and present.

Given its role in enforcing the provisions of the Jones Act, battling piracy on the high seas, and promoting safety in shipbuilding and maritime employment conditions, the Maritime Administration is a name that sometimes arises in connection with offshore personal injury cases.

If you have or a loved one has been seriously injured while performing duties as a maritime or offshore employee, you should contact the maritime law firm Maintenance & Cure at 1-800-836-5830. A free consultation is available.

Sources

  1. https://www.marad.dot.gov/about-us/maritime-administration-at-a-glance/
  2. https://www.marad.dot.gov/wp-content/uploads/pdf/i140731.pdf

Protecting Your Rights Under the Jones Act

In 1920, the U.S. Congress passed the Merchant Act of 1920. This act has come to be known as the Jones Act. It contains specific provisions which outline specific requirements for those businesses operating in maritime industries. It also provides protections for employees in the event of negligence by their employer, fellow employees, captains, or other crew members resulting in accidents causing personal injuries.

Protecting Your Rights

The United States Supreme Court established the qualifications to determine whether an employee is considered protected under the Jones Act in the case of Chandris, Inc., v. Latis, 515 U.S. 347, 115 S. Ct. 2172 (1995).1 To qualify for seamen’s rights under the Jones Act, the employee must be in the service of a vessel in navigation for more than thirty percent of his or her time.

This provision extends to oil rig workers, dock workers, and others, as allowed under the act. One of our Jones Act lawyers can help you determine whether you meet the qualifications to be considered a protected seaman under the Jones Act. If not, there may be other maritime laws or acts for which you could be entitled to for filing a claim against your employer in the event of an accident where you sustained personal injuries while in the service of a vessel or on the job.

What Rights Does the Jones Act Provide Seamen?

There are numerous risks and potential dangers seamen face every day. The Jones Act relates to specific working conditions, negligence caused by employers, ships’ captains, other crew members, and other such aspects of working in maritime industries. One of the key factors is the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Jones Act Provide Seamen

Specifically, is the vessel in proper working order, is it correctly maintained, and does it provide a safe working environment for employees? If the vessel is deemed unseaworthy, for one or more reasons, seamen could have grounds to file for damages allowed under the Jones Act if they are injured while in the service of the vessel.

Employers have a responsibility to maintain safe working conditions at all times, which include:

  • Properly maintaining the vessel for safe operations.
  • Providing proper training for employees on specific job duties.
  • Ensuring there is the correct number of employees available to complete tasks.
  • Training employees how to correctly and safely use equipment, tools, and other such materials related to their jobs.
  • Providing access to personal protection equipment (PPE), such as hard hats, work gloves, and other attire, as required for certain types of job functions.
  • Verifying all equipment, machines, and tools used to complete tasks are functioning and operating correctly.

How Do Seamen Risk Their Jones Act Rights?

After being injured while in the service of a vessel, typically, the ship’s onboard doctor will provide an evaluation and emergency treatment. If the injuries are more serious, then efforts are made to transport the injured worker back to land for proper medical care and treatment.

It is not uncommon for the seaman’s employer to request the worker seek care and treatment through a company-approved doctor or health care provider. The company’s doctor may tell the worker his or her injuries are not as severe as they think. They may also release the seaman back to work sooner than the time they need to recover from the injury.

Seamen Risk Their Jones Act Rights

In addition, an injured worker may be contacted directly by the employer’s insurance company and offered a settlement, depending on the extent of injuries and recovery time needed. Many seamen risk their Jones Act rights because their employer, company doctor, and company insurance provider make it sound like they are working in the employee’s best interests when, in fact, this is not always the case.

The goal of any insurance company, whether it is to settle a conventional personal injury claim or a maritime claim covered under the Jones Act, is to get the person to settle for the least amount possible.

The amount being offered may not even cover future medical costs should additional treatments for the injury be required later. Seamen who sign off on accepting whatever settlement is offered, and who return to work once released, are essentially giving up their Jones Act rights.

Steps to Follow to Protect Your Jones Act Claim’s Rights

If you are insured while in the service of a vessel, it is important to report the accident and injury immediately. Even if a worker sustains minor injuries, they should seek medical care with the onboard or company doctor, as well as verify an accident/injury incident report is completed.

Next, as soon as possible, contact our Jones Act law firm. You have the legal right to consult with a maritime lawyer to determine whether your employer, their insurance company, and the company doctor are, indeed, serving your best interests.

Protect Your Jones Act Claims Rights

If any individual representing the interests of your employer informs you there is no need for you to consult with your own lawyer, this should be a big “red flag” and warning that you probably should discuss your case with your own lawyer.

Your lawyer will review the cause of the accident, the extent of your injuries, what type of medical treatment and care are being offered by your employer, and other such aspects. They will provide you with sound legal advice, educate you about what rights you have, and lend their knowledge so you can make informed decisions on how you want to proceed.

What if I Were Partially at Fault for Causing the Accident?

Unlike conventional personal injury claims, where one party must be entirely at fault, with Jones Act claims the law works differently. You can file a claim even if you were considered partially at fault for causing the accident resulting in personal injuries to yourself.

The Jones Act treats all seamen equally and does not distinguish between deck hands, crew members, captains, and others. Furthermore, simply demonstrating partial negligence on the part of another seaman could be sufficient grounds for filing a claim, without having to prove negligence against your employer.

Maritime Workers Under the LHWCA

How Are Seamen Compensated for Injuries?

The Jones Act has a provision that refers to Maintenance and Cure. Maintenance is the compensation given to the injured party to cover their basic living expenses and lost wages. Cure is the compensation given for medical care and treatment until the seaman is released back to work.

Some employers and their insurance companies will use stall tactics to delay making payments to injured parties. If your employer does this, then it could create a situation where you could also be entitled to file for punitive damages against them with help from our maritime lawyers.

In cases where the vessel you were in the service of is deemed to be unseaworthy, there could be other types of compensation you could seek, such as pain and suffering. This is why it is best to talk to a lawyer at our Jones Act law firm.

What if My Spouse Died While in the Service of a Vessel?

Surviving spouses of seamen who died while in the service of a vessel due to personal injuries from an accident could have grounds for filing a wrongful death claim against the employer through the Jones Act. The amount of compensation sought in these types of cases depends on several factors and can be rather complex.

legal rights and protections

If your loved one died and his or her employer or the employer’s insurance company contacts you directly to make a settlement offer, do not agree to it until you consult with your own lawyer. Potentially, you could be entitled to receive a higher amount of compensation than what they are currently offering.

In summary, as a seaman working in the maritime industry, you have certain legal rights and protections provided by Jones Act Law. In order to preserve your rights, you need to refrain from signing any documents or accepting any settlement offer until after you have sought your own legal advice from Maintenance and Cure. Call us at 1-800-836-5830 to speak with a maritime lawyer now!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_Marine_Act_of_1920

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

The origins of piracy reach back literally thousands of years, yet the iconic image of the pirate—complete with eye patch and heavy jewelry—stems from the classic period of piracy, roughly the 17th to 19th centuries, when these hardy adventurers wreaked havoc along the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.

It took a concerted effort from European powers, including legislation such as the General Maritime Treaty of 1820, to put an effective end to pirate activity, at least as it was understood at the time.

Pirates did not go away for good, however. In fact, they constitute a serious threat that plagues the contemporary maritime industry, resistant to coordinated attempts to eliminate them. It’s not difficult to understand the persistence of this sort of criminal activity.

Piracy, like all crimes motivated by a desire for financial gain, is always a possibility wherever valuable goods can be seized. This is certainly true on the high seas, where substantial revenue is there for the taking in the form of cargo and even hostages.

Maritime piracy is far from an insignificant phenomenon in the modern era, and its reach is more widespread than most people suspect. Let’s take a closer look at this problem.

Maritime Piracy Still a Thing

Where Piracy Happens

Piracy in the modern era is not restricted to any geographic region. In fact, the locus of piracy continues to shift as economic conditions and anti-piracy activities make their influence felt.

Somalia – For many casual observers, modern piracy is strongly associated with this beleaguered African country—and for good reason. In 2009 alone, there were no fewer than 51 incidents off the coast of Somalia.1 This made Somalia virtually synonymous with piracy, but it has to be said that this isn’t an altogether fair assessment.

In recent years, the incidence of Somali piracy has dropped precipitously, to the point where this country no longer holds the distinction of being the world’s hotspot for this type of criminal activity. Even so, Somali piracy is still a phenomenon that must be contended with.

Indonesia – The world’s largest island country, Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia that encompasses over 17,000 islands. It is also notorious for a very high rate of pirate activity, much of which occurs in the Strait of Malacca (pictured below), an extremely busy shipping route used to transport a vast amount of merchandise from Japan and China.

All that valuable cargo passing through the strait has proven to be an irresistible target for pirates. The year 2003 saw a staggering 121 hijackings of commercial vessels in this region—over 20 percent of the global total.2 Since then, piracy has declined dramatically, but it remains a major problem in Indonesian waters.

Bangladesh – Widespread poverty and an understaffed national coast guard have left the nation of Bangladesh vulnerable to pirates, who have eagerly exploited local conditions for their own profit. Piracy attacks, mostly dealing with kidnapping fishermen for ransom, has taken its toll on the national economy, which is heavily dependent on its fishing industry.

The good news is that Bangladesh has taken steps in recent years to quell this problem. Its participation in the U.S.-led Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises is considered largely responsible for reducing—though not eliminating—the threat of piracy in the Bay of Bengal.3

Nigeria – In West Africa, over seventy percent of all maritime piracy can be traced to Nigeria.4 The Gulf of Guinea is the local playground for regional pirates, whose activities are mainly devoted to capturing valuable cargo, often oil, rather than taking hostages.

These are not the only areas where piracy happens—Peru and the Ivory Coast have also encountered pirates, to name a few other examples—but they are the primary locales. As we shall soon see, maritime piracy is more than just a nuisance—it’s a wide-ranging social problem that gobbles up huge amounts of resources.

Piracy Is Harmful

Why Piracy Is Harmful

Piracy causes major harm to society. The organization Oceans Beyond Piracy calculated the global cost of piracy for the year 2011 at $6.6 to $6.9 billion.5 The damage wrought by piracy takes a variety of forms, including but not limited to the following:

Fatalities – Many pirates operate by taking hostages and holding them for ransom. It’s a tactic that has proven quite profitable—but it can also lead to tragedy. Some encounters between commercial vessels and pirates devolve into violence. In Southeast Asia, 136 people were killed at the hands of pirates over the years 1995 to 2013.6 A far greater number of innocents have suffered serious injury during pirate attacks.

Costlier Shipping Practices – One tactic for keeping away from pirates is to ship materials at very fast speeds across the water. That’s what a lot of shipping companies have resorted to in an effort to reduce the risk of encountering unfriendly ships.

Unfortunately, this practice substantially increases the expenses involved in maritime transportation. Another tactic that shipping vessels sometimes use is to follow an indirect route to their destination—which, of course, takes longer and costs more money.

Increased Insurance Rates – The likelihood of stolen cargo means that shipping valuable goods is more risky than it would be under normal conditions. This also means that insurance rates must be raised to compensate for the increased risk.

Higher Security Expenses – There was a time when it was considered unnecessary for shipping vessels to employ armed guards and utilize anti-piracy equipment. That time is in the past, however. The price of maintaining adequate security is another expense that shipping companies must bear.

Damage to Local Economies – As we have mentioned, piracy in Bangladesh has caused serious injury to the nation’s fishing sector—and this is only one example of a country-wide economic devastation that can be attributed to these maritime interlopers.

Drain on Limited Military Resources – Many impoverished nations struggle to mobilize the kind of military response needed to discourage piracy.

There are a variety of laws on the national and international level aimed at prosecuting pirates and reducing the incidence of these types of crimes.

State of Piracy Law

The State of Piracy Law

Piracy that takes place within the territorial waters of a nation can be prosecuted by that nation. In the U.S., the crime of maritime piracy falls under 18 U.S.C. § 1651, which states, “Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.”

However, what happens when piracy occurs out on international waters? In this case, international law takes over—specifically, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This international agreement stipulates that “all States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.”

In practice, there has been some confusion as to which country should take on the responsibility of prosecuting pirates captured out on the high seas. When the United States has assumed this role, it has often imposed very harsh penalties, in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 1651.

If you or a loved one has been injured during the commission of a pirate attack, it is important to understand that there is legal recourse available. Under the Jones Act, victims of pirate assaults may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., for a free consultation.

Sources

  1. http://www.thenational.ae/uae/ships-warned-that-piracy-still-exists-1.255638
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/01/27/pirates/index.html
  3. http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2014/09/30/bangladesh-cuts-70-piracy-at-bay-of-bengal-with-us-support
  4. http://africanarguments.org/2014/12/10/piracy-in-nigeria-just-getting-going-by-ioannis-mantzikos/
  5. http://qz.com/664036/piracy-on-the-high-seas-is-on-the-decline-and-so-is-the-anti-piracy-industry/
  6. http://time.com/piracy-southeast-asia-malacca-strait/

Death On the High Seas Act: What Are Your Rights?

Death On the High Seas Act

When someone dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another, it’s called wrongful death. Their families have the right, under various state laws, to sue the responsible party. The same is true for those who die at sea, only their case comes under the purview of maritime law, specifically, the Death On the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

The Death On the High Seas Act

The Death on the High Seas Act (46 USC 761) has been around since 1920 when Congress decided to make provisions for the families of seamen who had been killed in international waters. Legislators have since expanded and amended the law, but the premise remains the same.

When a commercial maritime worker dies at least three nautical miles from U.S. shorelines, DOSHA permits dependents to recover damages. (A dependent is anyone who relies on the deceased for financial support—a spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc.)

Over the years, the law has come to include commercial aircraft accidents that take place over international waters at least 12 nautical miles from shore.

It’s important to note that DOSHA applies only to workers killed on commercial vessels—it does not cover those who work aboard non-commercial or privately owned ships. It also does not cover maritime injuries, which come under the aegis of the Jones Act.

What the Law Does and Does Not Cover

Under the Death On the High Seas Act, dependents are allowed to recover damages for such things as:

• Loss of financial support
• Funeral expenses
• Counseling expenses
• Other pecuniary (financial) losses

Since DOSHA preempts state law, however, families of victims cannot file claims through traditional wrongful death statutes. Historically, that has prevented dependents from recovering damages related to non-pecuniary losses (e.g., mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of emotional support).

Maritime accident attorney

In addition, a maritime accident attorney must be able to show that the death was the result of another party’s negligence, whether that is the ship’s owner or a fellow worker. Negligence may occur when:

• An employer fails to equip the ship with the necessary safety gear.
• Employers or owners fail to maintain the seaworthiness of the vessel.
• An employer or manager fails to maintain or repair safety gear.
• An employer forces a seaman to work in unhealthy or hazardous conditions.
• A co-worker engages in risky behavior or fails to carry out duties.

The Death On the High Seas Act Statute of Limitations

Like all maritime injury cases, DOSHA comes with a statute of limitations—a deadline of three years. That means family members must file a claim within three years of the accident if they hope to receive compensation.

Given the narrow window of opportunity, it’s crucial for dependents to seek the help of a dedicated maritime law firm immediately after losing a loved one. At Maintenance and Cure, we work hard to secure justice on behalf of our clients. Contact us as soon as possible to speak with a skilled maritime accident attorney.

The International Polar Code

Earlier this year (2017), new polar water regulations were rolled out that will affect the shipping industry and ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. These waters pose special threats, mainly from ice and icy conditions ship operators need to take into consideration to ensure their vessels are fully compliant with the new code.

The new requirements focus on every aspect of a ship’s operations, stability, structure, and safety, as well as what training the crew has received. The code applies to specific vessels based on their classification as either:

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class C

Keep in mind, the International Polar Code does not apply to all ships operating in these waters. Expectations are made for ships weighing less than 500 metric tons, fishing ships, and structures that are fixed in place.

Prior to entering Arctic and Antarctic waters, ships that must satisfy the rules and regulations contained within the International Polar Code must be certified. To learn more about the new code and how it could affect your operations, equipment, and crew in polar waters, please continue reviewing the following infographic.

The International Polar Code Infographic

Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Assessing the Jones Act

Background & Basics

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act, is a Federal law designed to protect and maintain the United States merchant marine system. Though the law covers a wide range of maritime topics, it is notable for its provisions on maritime worker safety. The act enshrines the rights of seamen to bring legal charges against their employers if the latter’s negligence causes them serious injury. If you can prove that your employer violated the Jones Act, you are entitled to compensation for the costs of your injury, which include:

  • The price of medical care, including treatments for the long-term effects of the injury
  • Lost wages that you were unable to earn because you were undergoing medical treatment, or because of disability that resulted from your injury
  • Pain and psychological suffering that result from your injury, as well as the cost of counseling
  • Loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment, and other effects that impact your quality of life

The Jones Act law establishes a significantly lower burden of proof for compensation than most other personal injury cases have. Whereas most cases require the plaintiff to prove that their employer was the primary cause of the harm, the Jones Act requires you to show only that they played a role in the injury. This makes it clear that it is the responsibility of maritime employers to safeguard the rights of their workers in all circumstances, no small matter in an industry with so many risks.

Jones Act Jurisdiction

For the Jones Act to apply to you, you must fit the following characteristics:

  • Vessel Validation– You must have been part of the crew of a commercial vessel at the time of your injury. A wide range of ships and boats qualify, including tankers, fishing vessels, casino boats, tug and tow boats, restaurant ships, barges, and freighters. It does not matter whether the boat was moored or in motion at the time you were injured.
  • Seaman Status– You must qualify as a seaman for the Jones Act to apply. The Supreme Court has defined this as anyone who spends at least 30 percent of their working hours serving a vessel that is in navigation. You may also qualify if your work is covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If there is any doubt, consult a Jones Act attorney for help determining whether you are a seaman.
  • Location Limitations– You must have been on board the boat at the time that you contracted the injury. The law does not apply if you were on a nearby dock, even if you qualify as a seaman. You also must have been on the boat primarily so that you could aid in its mission.
  • Navigable Nuances– The injury must have occurred while the boat was on a body of water that is considered navigable. Oceans, gulfs, large lakes, and large rivers usually qualify, but as with seaman status, you should check with an attorney before filing. If the water is not navigable, your case will have to be filed under land-based laws instead.

To benefit from the Jones Act law, you must file your claim no more than three years after the injury occurred. It is thus important to begin the filing process as soon as possible in case there are delays. You can file the claim in a state court as an admiralty claim, or in a Federal court as either an admiralty or a law claim. Where and how you file may impact the amount of compensation you get, so make sure to discuss the case with your attorney before you decide.

Jones Act claims

Valid Violations

There is a myriad of things that can go wrong on the ocean, and thus a myriad of ways that your employer can fail to keep you safe. You can file Jones Act claims for injuries resulting from:

  • Sub-par Safety– Your employer must provide a safe environment for you to work in. This means cleaning up spills, cordoning off slippery or damaged walkways, keeping all sections of the hull in good condition, and providing training so that you know how to do your job competently. They must also distribute appropriate safety devices to employees who are performing especially dangerous jobs. Overlooking any of these duties can cause serious injury or death.
  • Damaged Devices– To do your job safely, you must have equipment that is up to date and in proper working order. This means that the employer must regularly inspect all equipment, repair or replace devices that are not working correctly, and inform all members of the crew not to use equipment that is damaged.
  • Crew Chaos– The employer is responsible for the actions of all other members of the crew. Thus, if another crew member assaults you or causes you to be injured through negligence, the employer must be held accountable for failing to keep them in line. The employer may also be at fault for failing to assemble a competent crew if your injury is the result of another seaman’s poor judgment.
  • Reticent Rescue– If you jump or fall off of the ship, the employer is responsible for making every effort to rescue you. Failing to respond quickly enough or to devote the appropriate resources is grounds for a lawsuit.
  • Medical Matters– If you become sick or injured on the ship, the employer must provide you with the proper medical care. Failing to provide the right care may lead to much more serious medical problems down the road, for which the employer will be responsible.

Understanding the scope of violations is one of the most important ways you can gain the upper hand over your employer in Jones Act claims. Many employers assume that if another employee assaults you or neglects your safety, for example, it is that employee’s fault, and any compensation you might win must come from them. Likewise, if equipment does not work properly, the employer might expect you to blame the manufacturer. The last thing they want you to realize is that they are responsible for everything that happens on the ship.

Your employer may also expect you to think that if you assume the risks before the injury happens, you cannot hold them accountable. But the fact that you were aware of the danger does not absolve them of their responsibility to maintain a safe ship. The Jones Act law makes it clear that they are responsible for all of the results of their negligence, not only those for which you were unaware of the risks.

Savvy Steps

As with any personal injury case, the quicker and more decisively you act, the more likely your Jones Act claims are to succeed. If you were injured while working on a commercial vessel, make sure to take the following steps:

  1. Pursue Proof– As soon as you are in a stable condition, gather as much evidence as you can. Take pictures of the accident site, and gather the names and contact information of nearby coworkers, employees, and any other witnesses. If your injuries are too severe for you to do this yourself, ask a trusted co-worker to do it for you.
  2. Commit To Care– Seek out medical treatment as soon as possible, and follow the instructions of your care providers to the letter. Try to keep a record of all the treatments that you receive, and ask your care providers for their names and contact information. This will allow you to refute any accusations that your injuries would not have been as severe if you had not neglected your own care.
  3. Locate A Lawyer– Consult a qualified Jones Act attorney as soon as possible. Ask them if you qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, and answer any questions they ask you as honestly and comprehensively as you can. If they determine that you qualify, file your claim as soon as possible according to their instructions.
  4. Consider The Costs– Keep detailed records of all the expenses that result from your injury. Make sure to obtain and store receipts for any bills that you pay out of your own pocket, as it will otherwise be difficult to prove that you paid them. Also, keep a record of indirect expenses, such as days of work you have to miss due to treatment or disability.
  5. Speak Sparingly– Try to avoid talking to your employer or their lawyers about the case when your attorney is not present. If you do have to talk to them, avoid signing anything or sharing key details of the case. The more information you give them, the greater the chance that they will find a way to counter your claim.
  6. Record The Results– Keep a daily log of all your experiences after the accident. Write down anything that may result from your injuries, including pain, mental anguish, and trouble sleeping. The more detailed your record, the easier it will be to identify subtle effects of the injury for which you deserve to be compensated.

Holding your employer accountable under the Jones Act is not just about getting compensation for yourself, though that would be reason enough. It’s also about protecting your fellow seamen. If an employer pays no price for neglecting your safety, they have no reason to show any more care in the future. Demanding compensation sends a powerful message that seamen’s rights cannot be ignored. The more that employers are held accountable for their past negligence, the more they will care for employees in the future, ensuring a safe maritime working environment.

No maritime employer should get away with putting their workers at risk. For more information about your rights under the Jones Act, contact Maintenance and Cure at {email}, call {phone}, or  visit our website today.

http://maintenanceandcure.com/jones-act-lawyers/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/maintenance-and-cure/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/contact-us/;; http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/you-have-more-rights-after-a-boat-accident-under-maritime-law-than-your-employer-wants-you-to-know-part-a/; http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/overview-the-jones-act-seamens-injuries.html; https://www.ohiobar.org/ForPublic/Resources/LawYouCanUse/Pages/LawYouCanUse-690.aspx; http://www.saltwaterlaw.com/Maritime-Injury-Death-Claims/Crewmember-Injuries.aspx; https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/515/347/case.html; https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/46/30104; https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/515/347/case.html; http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/damages-how-much-personal-injury-32264.html; http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/how-to-figure-out-if-you-have-a-jones-act-or-maritime-case/; http://www.maritimelawfirms.com/resources/maritime/maritime-injury-claims/jones-act-case.htm; http://www.theledger.com/news/20090410/life-of-a-merchant-marine-filled-with-work-danger; http://maintenanceandcure.com/negligence-jones-act/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/the-dangers-of-falling-moving-objects-on-ships-and-vessels/;

U.S.S. Fitzgerald Sailors Awoke to a Disaster at Sea

The United States Navy destroyer Fitzgerald departed early on a Saturday morning from the American base at Yokosuka, Japan. It was still dark, but the weather was clear. Only a handful of the 350 sailors would have been awake. The crew had mere minutes to prepare for the collision on the starboard side which killed 7 crew members. 116 members of the crew were still asleep when the collision happened.

U.S.S. Fitzgerald disaster

Each year, maritime accident lawyers review cases just like this one to shed light on complex, confusing events. Let’s take a look at the details of this case and how maritime law fits in.

What Happened?

It’s still unclear what went wrong, and multiple investigations are still under way. Anyone’s best guess is that whoever was on duty saw the unexpected lights of a cargo ship, the ACX Crystal from the Philippines, and attempted to steer away from it. The collision caused significant damage to areas above and below the water line. A concave area formed that extended one-third of the way across the ship.

The crew showed tremendous effort to keep the Fitzgerald from sinking before tugboats arrived. They towed the destroyer back to Yokosuka before divers explored the submerged compartments. They found the bodies of all seven victims and released their identities.

Determining What Went Wrong

Maritime laws are complex and, often, the investigation into a maritime accident can make or break a case. Because incidents are so rare, there’s very little history to go on. Most veteran sailors with decades of experience can count on one hand the number of incidents with which they’ve ever been involved.

In the case of this incident, something went wrong, but it’s exceptionally difficult to determine exactly what that something was. Nevertheless, very few incidents are ever true accidents—and that means someone must be held accountable.

Bryce Benson, the ship’s commander, received injuries in the collision but will make a full recovery. Navy ship commanders have ultimate authority and responsibility for their vessel, and that often means they, or the Navy as a whole, are held responsible when accidents occur. Commanders are accountable for everything that happens on their ship, even if it wasn’t their fault, and that includes Benson.

Benson would have updated the standing orders before standing down for the night. This is regular practice on all Navy ships, and these orders almost always mandate the night watch to alert the captain of unusual activity. Some standing orders require notifying the commander if the ship’s closest point of approach is less than 5,000 yards.

Whether Benson recorded the events or not, investigators are currently attempting to identify if true fault under maritime law exists. In the process, they’ll assess competency, protocol, timelines, and radar records, and interview each person aboard. If any sailor, or the commander himself, failed to follow protocol or operated the ship unsafely, he or she may be held responsible monetarily or legally.

If you’ve been injured in a ship accident, either while in the Navy or while on another boating vessel, Maintenance & Cure wants to help. Contact us today for a consultation on your options, either for defense or for seeking contribution when it matters most. From the Jones Act to international waters, we understand how to best help you achieve your goals through Maintenance & Cure.

Maritime accident lawyers

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Over the past century, maritime workers have secured hard-earned legal rights. Now the Jones Act shields them from employer negligence, unsafe working conditions, and accidental injury.

In addition to safeguarding workers, the Jones Act also establishes protectionist measures that help keep U.S. waterways safe and the U.S. shipping industry afloat.

If you work on a U.S. vessel that navigates U.S. waters, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the history and provisions of the Jones Act. Whether or not you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, you should know a bit about the law that governs the American maritime industry.

Take a look at our infographic to learn more.

What is The Jones Act?

Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

The Severity of Maritime Piracy Crimes

Pirates—those much-romanticized scourges of centuries past—are still very much with us today, as viewers of the nightly news can attest. The unlawful activities of modern-day pirates on the high seas have achieved notoriety around the globe.

Even so, piracy is still a shadowy subject for most people, and understandably so. Few of us, even in the maritime industry, have first-hand experience with pirates. Piracy is, however, a serious problem that has far-reaching effects on the international stage.

Severity of Maritime Piracy Crimes

A Worldwide Phenomenon

The general public has come to associate modern-day piracy with activities occurring off the coast of Somalia, specifically in the Arabian Sea (particularly the Gulf of Aden) and the Indian Ocean. These goings-on can be traced to the deleterious societal effects of the ongoing Somali Civil War, which have made maritime piracy an attractive alternative to poverty. Piracy in these seas diminished significantly over the last decade or so, but, in early 2017, a burst of renewed pirate activity made it clear that this problem hasn’t gone away quite yet.

Piracy is not limited to this region, however. Nor is Somalia the only nation that harbors pirates. Another hotspot for criminal activity is the South China Sea, where pirates from Malaysia and Indonesia often harass maritime vessels. In addition, the Gulf of Guinea, in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, has seen dozens of incidents in recent years.

How It Happens

Pirates use a variety of tactics to capture and board unsuspecting maritime vessels. Sometimes they use high-speed engines to quickly catch up to vessels, often approaching from a blind spot, before defensive action can be taken. Another tactic is to pose as a friendly vessel in order to gain the trust of the crew on the targeted ship.

Once aboard, pirates frequently seize hostages, demanding a sizable payout for their release. Alternatively, they may simply raid the vessel for its cargo.

The Cost of Piracy

Wherever it occurs, maritime piracy enacts a steep cost. According to the non-profit group Oceans Beyond Piracy, Somali pirates caused $1.7 billion in financial losses in 2016. If that sounds steep, consider that this figure represents a dramatic drop from $7 billion in the year 2010. In West Africa, piracy accounted for nearly $800 million in losses (2016).1

In addition to incurring heavy losses in ransom money and lost goods, the actions of pirates force local governments to devote a substantial amount of resources to counter-piracy measures, such as providing military escorts to cargo ships.

Anti-Piracy Laws

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 is the primary piece of international legislation covering piracy.

In recent years, the U.S. has assumed a more central role in the prosecution of captured pirates, often imposing harsh sentences up to life in prison. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., has helped a number of piracy victims obtain suitable compensation under the guidelines of the Jones Act. If you have been harmed during the course of a pirate assault, you should contact our office as soon as possible for a free consultation.

Maritime piracy lawyers

Sources

http://oceansbeyondpiracy.org/reports/sop/summary

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

While LHWCA compensation is encompassing and beneficial to those needing to use it, the terms and stipulations are somewhat lengthy. If you’ve received an injury, contracted a disease or have been otherwise compromised while performing your regular maritime work duties, and you need to file a claim, contact an experienced longshoremen injury attorney to help guide you through the process.

Your longshoremen attorney will know whether you’re covered under the LHWCA, what type of benefits to which you’re entitled, and how to go about starting your claim. He or she will also partner with you throughout the process to give you a better understanding of what to expect.

What Is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

The LHWCA was drafted in 1927 to help protect workers who sailed in navigational waters. Criteria was more specific when the Act was first introduced. It has since been expanded to include a wider range of workers such as those who work on-shore in harbors and on docks, performing maintenance, construction and other maritime duties. Most maritime employers are required by federal law to offer insurance to workers under the LHWCA. Compensation is managed by the U.S. Department of Labor through the Office of Workers’ Compensation.

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury ClaimIf you’re a worker who is injured or becomes ill as a result of performing your job duties in a maritime setting, you may be eligible to collect monetary benefits via the LHWCA, toward disability, maintenance and cure until you’re healed and able to return to your previous job, or, in the event of a permanent disability, until you’re trained and able to work a new job somewhere else. In the event of your death from your work-related injury or illness, LHWCA may be able to pay benefits to your dependent family members.

Who Is Covered Under the LHWCA?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers maritime workers who fit certain criteria:

  • They perform such work as loading or off-loading ships in a port or harbor as well as building or deconstructing boats, docks or other harbor constructions. The Act also covers certain workers employed by private contractors in the defense base industry and those engaged in scientific exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands, such as workers employed on oil rigs.
  • Covered employees must have received their injury in the navigable waters of the United States or in or on their adjoining ports, harbors, wharves, etc. Navigable Waters of the United Statesis defined as any water subject to tidal control and that’s used for interstate or international commerce.
  • Employees who fit these two categories must have received an injury or contracted a debilitating illness while performing their required job functions.

How Is the LHWCA Different from the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is more encompassing, including such maritime workers as the captain and crew of cruise ships, fishing boats, crabbing boats and more. An employee can receive compensation based upon either the Jones Act or the LHWCA, whichever more adequately covers their particular occupation, but never both.

Define Compensation

Define “Compensation”

Compensation is the money you require to either be cured or to return to life with a disability. In the event of death, it’s a stipend paid to your family to help alleviate the monetary cost of your loss of earnings. Your personal injury attorney can help you decide which benefits you’re entitled to receive. These may include:

  • Full or partial medical expenses
  • The costs associated with rehabilitation, such as learning how to live with an amputation or hearing loss
  • Compensation to cover lost wages while you’re in recovery
  • Compensation to cover the costs of training you to perform a different job should your injury prevent you from returning to your previous one
  • A scheduled monetary reward for the loss of use of certain body parts
  • A disfigurement and death benefit

Basically, the Act helps protect you and your loved ones if you should receive a traumatic or life-altering injury while on the job.

What Types of Injuries Are Covered?

In this instance, injury refers to any type of way you could be hurt while performing your regular maritime duties, including:

  • Occupational Disease: An occupational disease is defined as one that is caused by exposure to harmful substances or chemicals. Mesothelioma is an occupational disease that many workers have contracted due to exposure to asbestos. Other occupational diseases include breathing disorders such as COPD or asthma, autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ Disease, and various skin disorders. All may be caused by exposure to workplace toxins, and all may make it difficult to return to work in your normal capacity.
  • Loss of Vision or Hearing: Exposure to loud noises or intense light can contribute to loss of vision or hearing in some people.
  • Injuries received during the performance of regular maritime duties, such as electrical shocks, burns, falls, contact with equipment, hypothermia, hyperthermia, head injury, drowning, broken bones or amputation.

How Do I File a Claim?

File a Claim

There are rules you must follow to file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act:

  • You must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days of receiving it.
  • You have one year to file a formal claim.

If you need to file a claim for compensation under the LHWCA, your first step is to narrow down your choices of longshoremen attorneys. At Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris, we have a long, successful history of working to resolve cases involving maritime injury. You may need something so simple as a phone call to your employer from a member of our knowledgeable staff for payments to commence. Then again, you may need actual representation in court. Regardless, we’re there for you. Call us today at 1-800-836-5830 to schedule an initial consultation. We’ll help you determine whether you have a valid claim, and then we’ll help you file for and collect compensation.

A case involving compensation for maritime injuries can be complicated. That’s why you need the services of professionals on your side to help you collect the funds to which you’re entitled.

How Long Does It Take for Payments to Begin?

The good news is that payments can begin in as little as 14 days after you notify your employer of your injury. This typically happens when the employer chooses not to dispute the legitimacy of the claim. Having a good maritime injury lawyer on your side can help set the wheels in motion so you can claim benefits faster.

Often, however, collecting on a maritime injury claim may take longer. If your employer controverts your claim by saying he had no knowledge of your injury, for instance, or if it’s not immediately clear whether your injury meets the requirements needed, your payments could be delayed until a ruling is made.

What’s My Role in Justifying My Claim?

If you notified your employer of your injury within the allotted time and filed your claim before the deadline, you’ve fulfilled your role in activating your claim. You may be required to tell your story again and to give the names of possible witnesses who can help substantiate your recollection, but that’s where your responsibility ends and your attorney’s responsibilities begin. We’ll make sure your employer abides by federal law in determining whether you receive benefits and how much your payout will be. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act is very clear regarding who does and who does not qualify for compensation. If you meet the criteria, we’ll help you procure the money you need to pay your medical and injury-related expenses. And, in the event of your injury-related death or illness, we’ll see that your family receives benefits as well.

All longshoremen lawyers are not created equal.  Claims to collect compensation from the LHWCA are very specific, and they require the services of experienced attorneys to navigate them efficiently so your payments are not delayed. You can trust the law offices of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to collect the facts needed and to get the wheels rolling on your personal injury claim. We understand how devastating a workplace injury can be, how impactful it can be on the families of those injured. You need fair and just compensation, and you need it in a timely fashion. That’s what we’ll do for you. Call us today at 1 (800) 836-5830 to discuss your options.

Source

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/33/329.4

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/united-states-longshore-and-harbor-workers-compensation-act-of-1927.asp

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/autoimmune-diseases

http://maintenanceandcure.com/maintenance-and-cure/

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/lhwca.htm#910

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Blog

What Is the Maritime Administration (MARAD)?

It’s certainly not a radical statement to say that the maritime sector in the United States plays an essential role in the maintenance of the nation’s economy and its military force. Corporations rely on the maritime transportation system to deliver goods safely and efficiently across the country and to foreign lands. In addition, the merchant marine serves the dual role of promoting maritime commerce and providing auxiliary support to national defense and emergency response efforts.

Posted in Maritime Piracy

Protecting Your Rights Under the Jones Act

In 1920, the U.S. Congress passed the Merchant Act of 1920. This act has come to be known as the Jones Act. It contains specific provisions which outline specific requirements for those businesses operating in maritime industries.

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

Death On the High Seas Act: What Are Your Rights?

When someone dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another, it’s called wrongful death. Their families have the right, under various state laws, to sue the responsible party. The same is true for those who die at sea, only their case comes under the purview of maritime law, specifically, the Death On the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

The International Polar Code

Earlier this year (2017), new polar water regulations were rolled out that will affect the shipping industry and ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. These waters pose special threats, mainly from ice and icy conditions ship operators need to take into consideration to ensure their vessels are fully compliant with the new code.

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Posted in General, Jones Act

U.S.S. Fitzgerald Sailors Awoke to a Disaster at Sea

The United States Navy destroyer Fitzgerald departed early on a Saturday morning from the American base at Yokosuka, Japan. It was still dark, but the weather was clear. Only a handful of the 350 sailors would have been awake. The crew had mere minutes to prepare for the collision on the starboard side which killed 7 crew members. 116 members of the crew were still asleep when the collision happened.

Posted in Jones Act, News

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

The Severity of Maritime Piracy Crimes

Pirates—those much-romanticized scourges of centuries past—are still very much with us today, as viewers of the nightly news can attest. The unlawful activities of modern-day pirates on the high seas have achieved notoriety around the globe.

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

Posted in General, Jones Act
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tbls

We have board certified personal injury trial lawyers prepared to take on your case. Details

 

bbb

Newsweek Leaders in Maritime
Recently
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Blog

What Is the Maritime Administration (MARAD)?

It’s certainly not a radical statement to say that the maritime sector in the United States plays an essential role in the maintenance of the nation’s economy and its military force. Corporations rely on the maritime transportation system to deliver goods safely and efficiently across the country and to foreign lands. In addition, the merchant marine serves the dual role of promoting maritime commerce and providing auxiliary support to national defense and emergency response efforts.

Posted in Maritime Piracy

Protecting Your Rights Under the Jones Act

In 1920, the U.S. Congress passed the Merchant Act of 1920. This act has come to be known as the Jones Act. It contains specific provisions which outline specific requirements for those businesses operating in maritime industries.

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

Death On the High Seas Act: What Are Your Rights?

When someone dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another, it’s called wrongful death. Their families have the right, under various state laws, to sue the responsible party. The same is true for those who die at sea, only their case comes under the purview of maritime law, specifically, the Death On the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

The International Polar Code

Earlier this year (2017), new polar water regulations were rolled out that will affect the shipping industry and ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. These waters pose special threats, mainly from ice and icy conditions ship operators need to take into consideration to ensure their vessels are fully compliant with the new code.

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Posted in General, Jones Act

U.S.S. Fitzgerald Sailors Awoke to a Disaster at Sea

The United States Navy destroyer Fitzgerald departed early on a Saturday morning from the American base at Yokosuka, Japan. It was still dark, but the weather was clear. Only a handful of the 350 sailors would have been awake. The crew had mere minutes to prepare for the collision on the starboard side which killed 7 crew members. 116 members of the crew were still asleep when the collision happened.

Posted in Jones Act, News

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

The Severity of Maritime Piracy Crimes

Pirates—those much-romanticized scourges of centuries past—are still very much with us today, as viewers of the nightly news can attest. The unlawful activities of modern-day pirates on the high seas have achieved notoriety around the globe.

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

Posted in General, Jones Act
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Board Certified Attorneys

We are maritime injury attorneys that have recovered millions for our injured clients. We have always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel or under the Jones Act law. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones.

These are some of the diverse groups of injured workers we have represented:

  • Jones Act seamen
  • Workers on oil rigs, offshore platforms and jack-up rigs
  • Crews and workers on barges, supply boats, tankers, freighters and other vessels

The list is by no means comprehensive. If you are unsure whether you qualify as a Jones Act seamen or whether you might be covered by other maritime regulations, it’s vital that you contact our maritime lawyers today to learn about your rights.

We have represented workers and their families in the following disasters:

  • Deepwater Horizon Disaster
  • M/V Jillian Morrison Explosion
  • Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 Explosion
  • British Petroleum Texas City Refinery Explosion
  • Phillips 66 Refinery Explosion

The team of Jones Act attorneys and maritime lawyers at SMSH have over 100 years of combined trial experience. Contact our Jones Act lawyers today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Why Hire the Worldwide Jones Act, Offshore & Maritime Injury Lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris?

The Jones Act and maritime injury lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris have spent more than five decades representing seamen, longshoremen and other maritime workers, and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. SMSH has always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones, as well as recovering the compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and other damages.

Here are some of the reasons why thousands of injured maritime workers have chosen Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to represent their interests:

  • We have recovered over $620 million dollars for offshore and maritime workers, including recovery of $17.5 million in the largest Jones Act settlement ever paid by the United States government.
  • Each of our Jones Act attorneys and maritime injury lawyers has more than 25 years of experience, with total of more than 100 years of trial experience for the team.
  • Our maritime injury lawyers have represented clients in some of the nation’s worst maritime and refinery disasters, including: the Deepwater Horizon explosion; the M/V Jillian Morrison explosion; the Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 explosion; the British Petroleum Texas City Refinery explosion; and the Phillips 66 Refinery explosion.
  • As dedicated maritime injury and Jones Act attorneys, we understand the financial difficulties that families often face when a loved one is injured and unable to work. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris offers interest free loans to assist our clients with day-to-day living expenses while waiting for the conclusion of their case.
  • Our attorneys provide assistance to maritime, offshore and port workers across the United States.
  • We have board certified Personal Injury Trial lawyers.
 

The Maritime Attorney Difference

Maritime and offshore accidents fall under a different set of laws than other personal injury or workers’ compensation claims. There are specific maritime laws that govern claims, including the Jones Act, the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and general maritime laws. To receive the full protections these laws offer, it’s crucial to have an attorney who understands the complexities of each. If you’ve been injured while working on a vessel, offshore or in one of the nation’s many ports, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris today for a free consultation.
Our experienced offshore injury lawyers have handled cases throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastal region of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and represented clients from all 50 states of the United States. We have years of experience representing the crew working on inland waters such as the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Kentucky River, the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and many more. We have also handled cases worldwide in countries as far away as the Ukraine and Israel. We routinely represent clients from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We have also made claims for clients from Columbia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Romania, Croatia, England, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, China, Mexico, and Brazil.

Time is of the Essence

If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured or killed as the result of an offshore accident, please speak to a qualified maritime lawyer before talking to your employer or any insurance company or adjuster. If you work on a vessel, boat, barge, tanker, fishing boat, an offshore drilling rig or platform, or any other kind of ship, you may qualify for Jones Act compensation. Working in, on, or near water means you need the specially-trained legal assistance of the Board Certified maritime lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P.

A few small tidbits of advice for the injured offshore worker:

  1. Fill out an accident report or incident paperwork as soon as possible after your injury.
  2. If your employer gives you any paperwork to sign, have it reviewed by a competent maritime lawyer so you don’t waive your rights to more money.
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to anyone without first seeking legal counsel.
  4. Do not accept the word of a company doctor as to the extent of your injuries, seek out your own doctor for a second-opinion.
We are Worldwide Jones Act attorneys and Maritime lawyers with over 100 years combined experience in Maritime Personal Injury Cases and we have handled thousands of cases. Your initial consultation for your maritime accident case is FREE. You pay us nothing unless we win your case and get you money. Call a maritime lawyer NOW at 1-800-836-5830 or e-mail us at info@smslegal.com.

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