Suffering an injury while on a boat or ship can be extremely difficult to handle. At Russell & Hill, our experienced Seattle maritime injury attorneys are here to help you through these difficult times by providing the guidance you need. Our team of seasoned lawyers has worked on ships at sea, giving us a unique take on the dangers of the jobs and the features required to keep seamen safe.
With office locations in King Country and throughout the entire Pacific Northwest, we serve residents in Seattle and all surrounding areas. If you have suffered an injury of maritime nature, our team of Seattle maritime injury attorneys will help you understand and pursue the benefits you are entitled to. Not only this, but we’ll also help you take care of all medical expenses, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Jobs that involve marine vessels and working on navigable waters are among the most dangerous in the world. You’ve worked hard and deserved compensation for your offshore injury – we can help!
Seattle is one of the busiest port cities in the Pacific Northwest, which in turn is among the most active in the entire West Coast. The Washington ferry system is a pivotal part of our highways as they connect numerous islands and peninsulas to the mainland. Besides a constant flow of cargo ships, fishing vessels, and cruises, this also means that a huge number of crew members, seamen, and fisherman call our area home.
Maritime workers risk injury and disability as they perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the work in busy ports such as Bremerton, Everett, Tacoma, Oak Harbor, and of course, Seattle. Negligence on behalf of a maritime employer can result in catastrophic accidents and serious injuries, which come with lost earning potential, loss of wages, and huge medical expenses.
Fortunately, the Puget Sound area is home to great recreational fishing and boating. Nevertheless, this also means high boat traffic, which can lead to collisions and severe injuries. If you are ever involved in such situation, you always have to remember to get the right medical attention and seek the compensation you deserve. This is where a Seattle maritime injury attorney can be of assistance.
Injured people who want to file a claim against common carriers and recreational boat operators need to show these elements:
If you believe you have suffered an injury or accident on a recreational boat and have all the elements to back your claim, contact our maritime injury attorneys in Seattle today.
If you work in the maritime industry and you suffer an injury on the job, there is a unique set of requirements and laws that dictate what benefits you’ll have available. The first thing you have to do in understand the two different categories of maritime workers and the laws that apply to each one of them.
Any person who works around or on water may be considered a maritime worker.
Maritime workers are divided into either seamen or longshoremen. Despite the fact you can change from one category to another within your employment period, you can’t be considered both at the same time. Moreover, it’s extremely important to understand which category applies to you as that will indicate what remedies and rights you have available under maritime law.
These reliable, hard-working men and women keep our ports and waterways operating seamlessly. Harbor workers, stevedores, shipbuilders, repairmen, ship breakers, maritime construction workers, and other employees who work on or close to water are all considered longshoremen.
Strong men and women who are brave enough to board ships as their crew members are known as seamen. These maritime workers carry out some of the most dangerous, grueling jobs in the world. In addition to this, they are at an extremely high risk of injury due to unseaworthiness of a ship or negligence on behalf of the employer.
In order to be considered a seaman by the law, you should be able to prove that you were employed on a ship on navigable water. This will help you claim maritime specific benefits that will help cover expenses and make up for your pain and suffering. A ship’s engineer, a ferry worker, a cruise ship steward, and a deckhand all quality as seamen, which gives them access to these dedicated benefits.
Although the vast majority of seaman injuries take place offshore, this is not a specific requirement to receive compensation through maritime laws. Injuries that happen on shore may also be covered, under certain circumstances. For instance, if a seaman is injured on shore while conducting ship-related business, such as purchasing parts or processing paperwork, he may still file a claim and receive compensation under maritime law.
Keep in mind the fact that these two categories seem extremely different, but there are some jobs that fall in a grey area between the two. For instance, maritime construction workers. These construction employees that operate dredges attached to a floating barge will likely be considered seamen. Even if these workers operate land-based machinery, the nature of their job will allow them to take advantage of maritime laws. In these cases, having the right Seattle offshore injury lawyer to take you through the murky waters of maritime employment injuries is crucial.
If you have suffered a workplace injury and you’re not sure if you qualify as a longshoreman or seaman, get in touch with our team of maritime injury lawyers in Seattle and protect your rights today.
If you are a longshoreman injured on the job, you have rights and remedies available under the United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA or USL&H). Thanks to this act, longshoremen can count on speedy wage replacement while treating and recovering from any injuries. In addition to the above, this act also covers disability and medical costs.
Despite the fact that these remedies are administered quickly, always remember that longshoremen are not able to pursue action against their employer’s negligence. In certain special scenarios, longshoremen may have a cause of action against the shipowner, when the vessel is not owned by their employer.
Injured seamen can take advantage of the following statutes and common laws throughout the course of their employment:
In short, the Jones Act provides seamen with a cause of action against their employer if their negligent behavior caused the injury. According to the general maritime law doctrine of unseaworthiness, seamen have the right to file a claim against the shipowner for injuries suffered due to the poor condition of a vessel. Lastly, the doctrine of maintenance and cure states that seamen who become ill or injured while working aboard a vessel need to be provided with medical treatment and a daily stipend while recovering on shore.
If injured during the course of their employment, seamen can recover maintenance and cure, lost and unearned wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and even punitive damages in certain situations.
Seamen who are injured or become ill during the course of their employment, either offshore or onshore, can recover the wages they could have earned if they had completed the remainder of the contract or the trip.
Maritime employers are required to pay for all medical expenses associated with a seaman’s injury or illness, which is also referred to as the “cure”. On the other hand, seamen are also entitled to a daily stipend often referred to as the “maintenance” from the time they leave the vessel for onshore treatment. Maintenance is awarded until the injured seaman returns to work or once he reaches maximum medical improvement.
If the recovery period extends beyond the employment contract, seamen may also claim lost wages due to injury. As the name indicates, lost wages consist of all wages a seaman has lost due to the maritime accidents. This includes wages lost because of permanent injuries that prevent a seaman from returning to his previous employment.
Cure covers immediate medical treatment, but some injuries may result in long-term damage that requires extensive treatment. Seaman may claim compensation for this lasting damage in the form of future medical costs.
Note that while seamen have the right to claim compensation for physical and emotional stress caused by a personal injury, longshoremen don’t have these damages available under the LHWCA.
All scenarios and compensation discussed above revolve around repairing the wrong that was done and allowing seamen to return to their life before the injury. However, punitive damages are designed to prevent wrongdoers from committing future offenses.
In the State of Washington, punitive damages are not usually recoverable through personal injury claims. But, under general maritime law, seamen may claim punitive damages under two circumstances.
If a maritime employer willfully and wantonly fails to provide maintenance and cure for an injured seaman, the employee may seek punitive damages on top of the maintenance and cure owed. In order to claim these damages, the conduct must rise to the level of arbitrary, capricious, willful, and wanton misconduct.
There are different jurisdictions that dictate whether the unseaworthiness of a vessel qualify to claim punitive damages. In Tabingo v. Am. Triumph LLC, the Washington Supreme Court recently decided in the seaman’s favor, meaning that an injured employee may seek punitive damages for reckless or malicious conduct due to an unseaworthy condition of a ship. 188 Wn.2d 41, 391 P.3d 434, 441 (2017), as amended (May 2, 2017), reconsideration denied (May 10, 2017).
Some of the most common maritime injuries seamen and offshoremen suffer are:
Maritime personal injury laws are extremely complex and unique. Having a reliable Seattle maritime injury attorney can help you understand the rights you have available and get the compensation you deserve.
At Russell & Hill, PLLC, our team of maritime injury attorneys in Seattle can help you get the most out of your employer and their insurance company, allowing you to focus on making a fast recovery.
If you have suffered a maritime injury and you feel you have to grounds to receive compensation, get in touch with us today by filling out our online contact form.