Crew Member Negligence Per Se Injury & Accident

Crew members who suffer personal injury or death due to an accident resulting from a shipping company’s violation of a statute or regulation may pursue a strict liability claim. Having previously represented cruise ship companies, ship and vessel operators, and yacht owners for 19 years, the board certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak are in a unique position to help crew members who have suffered personal injury or death due to an accident while aboard any type of “vessel”, including a cruise ship, tanker, yacht, tug, ferry or workboat. The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak with offices in Miami, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas are here to help crew members and seafarers injured as a result of an accident aboard any one of these vessels.

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A crew member’s employer is strictly liable for any injury caused by the violation of a Federal statute or regulation designed for the safety of the crewmember. However, unlike the typical Jones Act seaman negligence case where the employer of the crew member can reduce the damages owed proportionally by the negligence of the injured crew member, an employer is barred under a negligence per se claim from reducing the damages available to a crew member due to the crewmember’s comparative fault. This is an important difference.

For example, if a crewmember was injured not as a result of the employer’s failure to comply with a Federal safety statute or regulation, and the crewmember proved $1 Million in damages, but the employer proved that the crew member was 99% responsible for his/her accident, the crew member would only receive $1 Thousand at the end of the trial. However, if a crewmember was injured but this time as a result of the employer’s failure to comply with a Federal safety statute or regulation, the employer would be unable to reduce the award to the crew member even if s/he was 99% responsible for his/her our injury. The crewmember would receive the full $1 Million at the end of the trial. This example is illustrated below:

Jones Act Negligence Negligence Per Se
$1 Million in Damages$1 Million in Damages
Crewmember 99% at FaultCrewmember 99% at Fault
$1,000.00 Awarded$1 Million Awarded
Crew Member Negligence Per Se FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How Long Do I Have To File My Claim?

The statute of limitations for filing a negligence per se claim is three years from the date of injury. The same limits exist for filing claims under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness of the vessel.

What Damages Can Be Awarded For Negligence Per Se?

Damages for a claim of negligence per se include: lost past and futures wages, past and future medical bills (to the extent not paid under the cure obligation); and lost and future pain and suffering.

Can An Employer Reduce The Damages For A Claim Of Negligence Per Se By The Crewmember’s Comparative Negligence?

NO! The employer cannot reduce its liability by the comparative negligence of the crewmember in a negligence per se claim. Meaning that if the crewmember is 99% responsible for his/her accident and, the employer’s violation of the safety statute or regulation contributed to the accident by only 1%, the employer is liable for 100% of the damages arising from the accident.

What Are Examples Of Negligence Per Se?

Examples of negligence per se claim are injuries or death resulting from:

  • Failure to have proper hand guards as required by the Coast Guard
  • Improper compliment of crew as required by the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection
  • Improper storage of chemicals and gasses as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations
  • Working the crew longer than allotted by the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Failure to have had proper lookout posted as required by the rules of navigation
  • Failure to have proper life saving equipment required by the Safety of Life as Sea Convention

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Brais & Rusak have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click email the firm, call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


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