What are My Rights if I am Hurt in a Work-Related Maritime Accident?

Anchorage and the other eight ports in Alaska employ countless maritime workers throughout the year, in shipping, fishing, cruising, transportation, and many other commercial industries. Many of the work-related duties of these seamen are extremely risky, so injury-causing accidents are common. In worst-case scenarios, some incidents can even be deadly. Though you may be familiar with the state workers’ compensation system, it is important to realize that these statutes do not apply to maritime employees who are hurt on the job. Instead, you have other options to obtain monetary benefits for your medical costs, lost wages, and other losses.

If you are employed as a seaman and you were injured in a workplace accident, talk to an Alaska maritime accidents lawyer about your rights. You can also benefit from reading an overview about these cases.


Maintenance and Cure

One of the oldest concepts in maritime law, maintenance and cure is a remedy that is similar to modern workers’ compensation systems. The current law of the land was handed down via a US Supreme Court decision in 1938, where the Justices found that an employee is entitled to:

  • Maintenance, for the injured victim’s daily expenses while he or she is unable to work; and,
  • Cure, which covers the seaman’s medical costs for treatment of the injuries.

Employers are obligated to pay these amounts, regardless of fault, until such time that the maritime worker can return to duty. Alternatively, the company must cover maintenance and cure until the victim has reached a point where additional care will not help – similar to the “maximum medical improvement” theory in workers’ comp.


The Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, otherwise known as the Jones Act, extends protections of the Federal Employer’s Liability Act to seamen who have been injured at sea while working. One difference from maintenance and cure – and from workers’ comp – is that you do need to prove that your employer was at fault, just as in other personal injury cases. Typically, in a maritime accident, this means presenting evidence that the vessel was not seaworthy, and this condition was the cause of your injuries. In addition, you must qualify as a “seaman” according to the statutory definition: Someone who spends a considerable amount of time performing job-related duties on a vessel that is in actual navigation on seas, lakes, rivers, or other navigable waters.

The other key difference by bringing an action under the Jones Act is that, unlike other remedies, you CAN recover monetary damages for your pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages.


Consult With an Alaska Maritime Injury Lawyer About Work-Related Accidents

 At Power & Power Law, our attorneys understand that getting hurt in a maritime accident can have numerous effects on your life. We are at your side to seek all available legal remedies allowed by law, so you can pay your medical bills and support your family as you recover. Please contact our offices in Anchorage, Alaska to schedule a free consultation regarding your options. We can get started on a strategy right away after reviewing your circumstances.