As a coastal state, Florida derives much of its economy from sea-based commerce and activities. Cruise ships, commercial vessels, and pleasure boats all provide jobs to Florida residents and attract tourists from around the world. Owners and operators of all different types of vessels owe a duty of care to the invited guests and workmen that sail aboard their respective ships. If an injury or death occurs on board due to negligence, then suit may be filed in either state or federal court, depending on the individual circumstances of the injury.
If a worker gets sick or injured while onboard a commercial vessel, they may be able to sue for maintenance and cure. Maintenance and cure are long-standing remedies provided by federal maritime and admiralty law. Maintenance is a daily allowance given to those injured during their period of recovery until they reach maximum medical improvement or, in the alternative, are ready to report to duty in the same physical condition they were in prior to the injury. Cure is payment for reasonable and necessary medical expenses including doctor visits, medical equipment, testing, and transportation for medical appointments.
The Jones Act is federal maritime and admiralty legislation that allows injured seamen to recover damages sustained. The Jones Act may award compensation for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and future wages. The Jones Act was created to maximize recovery and compensation for injured workers, while limiting litigation. Damages for maintenance and cure can be recovered without showing the vessel operator or owner was negligent, but courts limit the amount of recovery to expenses actually incurred. If it can be shown the employer was negligent, then the injured party may be able to recover pain and suffering.
Families may be able to recover for injured seamen through a wrongful death action or suit under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). DOHSA pre-empts state causes of action when the event that led to the death occurs more than three nautical miles from shore. A personal representative may try to pursue on behalf of a child, dependent relative, husband, or wife for pecuniary damages, which are defined as loss of support, services, and inheritance. Proof of these damages must be supported by facts with a reasonable amount of certainty.
The South Florida Admiralty and Maritime Law attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank know the complexities of the Jones Act and the Death On the High Seas Act. The experienced litigators know how to sort through your unique set of circumstances and determine which avenue of legal relief is available that will maximize the compensation you are entitled to. If you have been injured while working onboard a ship and seek aggressive representation, call for a free, confidential consultation at (877) 448-8585.
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