Miami Maritime Personal Injury Lawyers
At Brais Law Firm, our Miami Board Certified Maritime personal injury attorneys have vast experience to help accident and crime victims in a wide array of Maritime claims. We have successfully sued the largest marine employers, shipping companies, cruise lines, tug & barge outfits, yacht owners, and marine insurers for tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. For a partial list of our recent victories please click results. The firm’s attorneys have impeccable credentials and qualifications as well as real-world experience in the marine offshore industry. Our firm brings more than 65 years of combined trial experience to our clients' cases. Our practice areas include cruise ship passenger injuries and accidents, cruise ship passenger sexual assaults, crew member injuries and accidents, yachting and boating accidents, personal watercraft and jet ski injuries, scuba diving and snorkeling injuries, boat run-over / prop strike accidents, defective marine products, maritime wrongful death, ferry guest injuries, offshore oil rig drilling worker injuries, commercial fishing injuries, railroad worker injuries, and longshoremen's injuries.
Pursuing Compensation Under Maritime Law
Maritime law is a unique and esoteric body of law that governs accidents that occur on navigable waters—those bodies of water with direct or indirect access to the ocean. As such, Maritime law governs injury and accident claims of cruise ship passengers, guests on yachts, ferry passengers, commercial fishermen, long liners, airplane passengers, shrimpers, crew members, Jones Act Seamen, Brown Water Seamen, merchant marines, offshore oil rig workers, longshoremen dock workers, harbor workers, and ship workers.
Cruise ships are one place on open waters where accidents can and do occur. These may include slip and falls on deck due to a spilled beverage, a trip and fall due to a guest's dropped object or defective ship’s design, accidents that are a result of a crew member’s negligence, assaults and sexual assaults at the hands of a crew member or fellow passenger oftentimes involving the excess service of alcohol, contaminated food, falls overboard, and even a disappearance. In the cases of an assault or sexual assault by a crew member, a passenger is not required to prove negligence (i.e., that the cruise line knew or should have known of the crew member’s propensity to violent acts) but, rather, the cruise line’s liability is based upon strict liability.
Under the Shipping Act of 1984, cruise ships that leave a U.S. port are considered common carriers. In general, common carriers owe a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances except in the event the hazardous condition is unique to maritime travel. If you have suffered serious injuries on a cruise, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills and future medical care,
- Lost income and loss of future earning capacity,
- Pain & suffering, past and future,
- Loss of society, companionship, and financial support,
- Loss of nurture and guidance for children,
- Scarring and disfigurement,
- Funeral expenses,
- Mental pain, anguish, and psychological harm, and
- Inability to lead a normal life.
Often, a cruise ship ticket includes a forum selection clause, a choice of law clause, a one-year provision within which suit must be filed and a notice clause. They require a passenger to sue in a specific forum (aka court), depending on where the cruise line is based, and they require notice of the injury to the cruise line within a set period. The set notice period may be within six months or less of the injury. The ticket will also include a one-year deadline within which suit must be filed failing which any later filed suit will most often be deemed untimely and ultimately dismissed. Accordingly, it is crucial to consult an experienced and well accredited maritime attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
A crew member who is considered a "seaman" and who is injured may have special maritime remedies. Under state law, employees on land are typically barred from suing their employers and must obtain benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act as their exclusive remedy. However, a seaman is able to sue an employer under the Jones Act. The seaman may also have a claim under General Maritime Law, called an unseaworthiness claim, which is analogous to strict liability under state personal injury law if a dangerous condition on the ship contributed to the injury.
A vessel is considered unseaworthy for a seaman if it does not provide a safe place to work and safe, suitable appliances with which to perform the job. Additionally, the duty to provide a seaworthy vessel also means a ship owner must provide sufficient and well trained crew. As a seaman bringing an unseaworthiness claim, you would not need to prove that the whole vessel was dangerous. You would only need to show that some aspect of it or a fellow crew member was not reasonably fit for the purpose for which it or the fellow crew member was intended and that this caused the resulting injuries.
Other theories that may be available to recover compensation include maintenance and cure, breach of contract, unearned or sick wages, earned wages, and wrongful discharge.
Representation in Other Personal Injury Matters
We also handle other types of maritime personal injury claims, including those that arise out of slip and falls, shipboard sub-standard medical care (aka “medical malpractice”), plane crashes occurring on navigable waters, and railroad worker injuries and accidents. The firm is very often retained to assist with scuba diving accidents, yacht, boat and Jet Ski (aka “Personal Watercraft”) collisions and injury claims. These types of claims involve expertise with Rules of Navigation, yet another esoteric area of Maritime Law. In most cases, you will need to establish negligence by a greater weight of the evidence in order to prevail. This means that you will try to show the defendant's duty of care toward you, a breach of duty, causation, and actual damages. The duty owed varies depending on the defendant. For example, doctors owe their patients a duty to act as other competent doctors in the same specialty would act when treating a similarly situated patient.
Consult a Maritime Personal Injury Lawyer in Miami or Beyond
Whether you have suffered injuries on a cruise ship, tanker vessel, tug & barge, yacht, PWC (aka Jet Ski) or while working on an oil rig, it is important to retain an attorney experienced with the unique law that governs your claim. The Miami Maritime Personal Injury attorneys at Brais Law Firm are uniquely positioned to assist with two attorneys Board Certified in the field of Admiralty & Maritime Law. The attorneys with and of counsel with the firm offer more than 65 years of collective trial experience. The firm’s credentials also include an “AV Preeminent” rating with Martindale-Hubbell (the highest ethical and competency rating available) and membership in the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates forum. Our firm has offices in Miami as well as Boston and Houston, from which we represent people in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Daytona Beach, Cape Canaveral, Dallas, San Antonio, Provincetown, and Nantucket, among other areas. To obtain a free non-obligation consultation and see how we might help you today, contact us now by calling 800-499-0551 from within the United States, or complete our online form to set up your appointment.