Admiralty Law

The Port of Charleston, the Port of Miami, the marina in Georgetown and many other facilities provide a host of dangers to workers and those boating in the area.  Injuries and accidents at sea are treated differently than most other cases.  The jurisdiction of the case will be determined by the location of the accident and the parties involved.  Please call our office at 1-800-94-TRIAL or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our admiralty accident lawyers.

Admiralty cases generally center around the following:

  1. Cruise Ship injuries (negligence in hiring, care or treatment)
  2. Jones Act Violations
  3. Deckhand Injuries
  4. Port Injuries
  5. Wrongful Death
  6. Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA): 46 U.S.C. § 761

Many of these cases revolve around profit. The companies want to make as much profit as possible without having any concern for the passengers or crew. Many ships are not even registered in the United States. The assaults of passengers and permanent injuries to passengers is difficult to prove because the ship is out to sea and no thorough investigation was conducted. Many times we must reconstruct the events that occurred on the cruise ship.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act allows seamen to seek compensation for injuries resulting from the on-the-job negligence of an employer and/or co-worker.  The Jones Act recognizes the reality that maritime workers/seamen are employed in one of the world’s more dangerous professions. Employers may be liable for even the smallest breach of protection or accepted standards in maritime work environments that are found to be contributory to an injury. These actions are maintained even when a maritime worker/seaman is fully aware of the high risks involved in the work.

The Jones Act also applies to claims involving injuries caused by negligence of the vessel’s owner (i.e., the vessel was not seaworthy). An employer/vessel owner may also be liable for failing to provide a maritime worker/seaman with adequate medical care.  In fact, injuries to dock workers and deck hands occur almost every day. Many times the company keeps the injury quiet and the worker quiet as well. These cases are filed in federal court depending on the alleged misconduct. Our admiralty attorneys are highly experienced in federal court and handle these types cases all across the country.

The Longshore Harbor Workers and Compensation Act

If you have been injured onshore while working in a dry dock, while using a crane or are injured by one, while loading or unloading a container ship or vessel, or suffer a related accident while employed in the shipbuilding industry, you may qualify for compensation under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act.

Under federal law, onshore maritime workers may receive replacement work income, payment for medical expenses and/or rehabilitation therapy if injured on the job. Workers in the following categories may qualify: harbor workers, crane operators, longshoremen, dock workers, stevedores, shipbuilders, along with several others.  Under this act, claims may be filed up to one year after the accident or injury. Some injured onshore workers may also qualify for state workers’ compensation benefits as well.

When Is a Vessel Unseaworthy?

Legally, the owner of any watercraft must provide a seaworthy vessel that is fit for its intended use; is outfitted with all appropriate equipment and safety gear associated with its use; provides a safe environment in which to live and/or work; and is staffed by competent crew members. Even if all these factors are approved, a vessel may become unseaworthy after it leaves shore, based on dangers or conditions that arise during its time at sea.

Maintenance and Cure: “Seaman’s ‘Workers’ Compensation’”

Regardless of fault, seaman have a legal right to “maintenance and cure.”  These are benefits that are similar to those available through traditional “workers’ compensation” law.

“Maintenance” is monetary, allowing the injured party to collect, usually, from $10 to $40 per day, for food and shelter expenses, or the amount an injured seaman would have received aboard the vessel, in the course of his work duty. “Cure” translates to the type of appropriate medical care, hospitalization and/or rehabilitation therapy that the employer is obligated to provide to an injured person.  Medical care should be provided until maximum medical improvement is seen, as determined by medical professionals.  Maritime workers who are not on-board seamen may still be eligible for compensation under The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.

Liability of Third Parties

When/if a seaman’s injury is caused aboard a vessel by an employee of an independent contractor, it may be possible to pursue a cause of action against the independent contractor, in addition to a claim under the Jones Act.   An experienced Jones Act attorney can assist an on-board seaman with specific injury claims, while maximizing recovery of maintenance and cure. If an employer denies maintenance and cure benefits, additional awards of damages and attorney fees may also be possible. If a seaman is killed or loses his life, where possible, an attorney may also seek damages under the Death on the High Seas Act.


If you need an admiralty attorney in Charleston, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Miami Beach, Miami, Palm Beach, Hilton Head, or North Myrtle Beach, contact our office for a free consultation at 1-800-94-TRIAL. Our Maritime Lawyers in Charleston, Georgetown, Miami, Savannah, Hilton Head, North Myrtle Beach, Ft. Lauderdale are ready to help with your claims.

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