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Crew members by whatever name, i.e., merchant marine, seafarer, deck hand, ship’s officer, aboard whatever type of vessel, i.e., cruise ship, dredge, tug, ferry, yacht, tanker, cargo carrier, oil rig, possess a strict liability claim against a shipowner in the event an accident leading to personal injury or death due to an “unfit” vessel or fellow crewmember. 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 Law Firm are in a unique position to serve crew members who have suffered personal injury or death due to an accident while aboard any type of “vessel”, i.e., a cruise ship, tanker, yacht, tug, ferry or workboat. The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Law Firm with offices in Miami, Florida and Boston, Massachusetts are here to help crewmembers injured as a result of an accident aboard any one of these vessels.

The warranty of unseaworthiness is the absolute and non-delegable duty of a shipowner or vessel operator to provide a crewmember a vessel that is reasonably fit for its intended purpose. The warranty of seaworthiness extends to the hull of the ship, the ship’s cargo handling machinery, hand tools aboard the ship, ropes and tackle, and all kinds of equipment either belonging to the ship or brought aboard by stevedores. A violation of a statute or regulation, relating to safety will justify a finding of unseaworthiness per se (a presumption of unseaworthiness). The finding of an unseaworthiness condition does not require that a vessel leave a port in an unseaworthy condition. Rather, a transitory or temporary condition that develops after a vessel has left port can violate the warranty of seaworthiness even if the shipowner or operator is unaware of its existence.

Crew members working aboard a vessel are subject to unique and constant risks of serious personal injury and even death. If you were injured while working aboard a vessel as a seaman, crewmember, deck hand or commercial fisherman, you may be protected by federal maritime law.

The law protects crew members of every rank and national origin from the captain and mate in the wheelhouse to deckhands, wipers, housekeepers, engineers, fish processors, cooks and tour guides aboard a vessel. The law does not discriminate – the lowest crewmen aboard the vessel have the same rights as the captain. The law also protects crew members that work aboard vessels during the day and return home at night.

If you were injured while working as a crew member, you may be entitled to past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, vocational and occupational retraining, past and future pain and suffering, psychological suffering. Some serious injuries limit the number and types of jobs available to an injury victim. In this situation, crew members and seamen are entitled to damages for lost earning capacity. Additionally, if your injury will worsen with time, and cut short your career, you are entitled to future lost wages for this loss.

A crew member who is injured may sue his employer and/or shipowner under theories of:

  1. Jones Act Negligence,
  2. Unseaworthiness,
  3. Maintenance and cure,
  4. Unearned or Sick Wages,
  5. Breach Of Contract,
  6. Earned Penalty Wages,
  7. Wrongful Discharge From Employment, and
  8. Additional Claims.

Each of these claims requires certain elements to be proven to the Judge or Jury deciding your case. If one of the needed elements is not proven, your claim may be dismissed. This means that you will not get compensation for your injury. Knowing what elements must be proven under each maritime claim and how to prove these elements has been the business of the board-certified maritime lawyers at the law firm of Brais Law Firm for more than 28 years.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm 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 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.

Related Reference:

  • Ship’s Medical Negligence: Respondeat Superior or Strict Liability; Presented by Keith S. Brais, Esq., at the International Council of Cruise Lines 2006 Legal & Insurance Seminar, in Washington, D.C.