Maritime Negligence and Personal Injury in Fort Lauderdale, FL

The average person about to embark on a dream cruise ship vacation rarely contemplates that things can go wrong during their voyage.  Having been a maritime law firm since 1971, we’ve seen that pretty much everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong.  Fortunately, we’ve been a trusted advocate for literally thousands of clients in helping them navigate their way through a maritime personal injury lawsuit.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is often referred to as the yachting capital of the world.  It is home to some of the world’s great yachts.  It is also home to Port Everglades, one of the world’s busiest ports.  Given the incredible volume of maritime activity that takes place in South Florida, it is no surprise that we have successfully handled countless maritime injury and wrongful death cases that occurred in South Florida.  Our Global Headquarters is in Miami, Florida, so we are perfectly situated to handle any such case.

At its most simple, every shipowner, operator or charterer has a clear legal duty to exercise reasonable care aboard the vessel to prevent injury, illness, or damage.  Any breach or failure of this duty that harms the crew and passengers can be considered negligence under maritime law.

One of the most challenging parts of being a maritime attorney is the fact that multiple laws can be applicable to the same incident or injury.  A single incident or injury can implicate the law of the flag of the vessel, the law of the jurisdiction of the defendant, the law of the location of the incident, or the general maritime law.  This is why it is so critically important to consult with a maritime attorney at the earliest possible moment.

Understanding What Negligence Means in Maritime Cases

In a maritime case, negligence refers to a person considered liable for damages due to their negligence. In general, the person at-fault is responsible for failing to do what a “reasonable” person would do under the same circumstances. Proving negligence under maritime law can be complicated.  A maritime attorney must convince a judge and/or jury that the defendant did not take the proper action that needed to be taken or prove that they did not apply the proper safety measures. It is important to note that in order to recover damages in a maritime case negligence must be proven by the plaintiff or injured party.

Cruise Ship Maritime Negligence

According to the general maritime law, ships must provide their passengers with “reasonable care under the circumstances.” In Morris v. Princess Cruises, Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1070 (9th Cir. 2001), the court stated that to recover negligence, a plaintiff must establish: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and (4) damages. It is plausible that cruise ship tickets may successfully limit the jurisdiction or time to file a claim, but they are prohibited from completely removing liability from negligence due to the actions of a crew member or the cruise company.

Your Rights If Injured As A Result of Maritime Negligence

When an accident that leads to injury occurs, maritime law tends to separate the types of damages that maritime workers can claim; this is according to who is injured, the circumstances that surround the injury, and where the incident took place:

Maintenance and Cure

Seamen who are injured at work are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Regardless of how the accident happened, just as long as it occurred while the seaman was working. Maintenance covers the seaman’s everyday living expenses during recovery. This includes rent or mortgage, food, utilities, and taxes. Optional expenses are deemed as follows: cable and internet. Other expenses such as gas, automobile expenses, repairs, and insurance are not generally considered necessary to run a household.

Cure covers all of the medical expenses associated with the injury during the time of recovery. The medical expenses include medication, examinations, rehabilitation, doctor visits, costs from traveling to medical appointments, and any special equipment that is required.

The Jones Act

 When a seaman or crew member is injured, he may be entitled to significant rights and protections under the Federal law known as the Jones Act.  Under the Jones Act, the injured worker must prove that their injuries are due to the negligence of the employer and that the injuries were incurred during work.  There is a relaxed causation standard in Jones Act cases, which often means that such cases can be easier to prove.  Under this standard, the seaman only needs to prove that their employer was a factor in causing the accident that led them to get injured.

Common reasons for the employer liability under the Jones Act include:

  • Co-worker assault
  • Spills (such as oil and grease on the ship’s deck)
  • Failure to provide the proper safety gear and equipment
  • Overworking employees (leading to fatigue and repetitive use injuries)
  • Failure to place warning and hazard signs around dangerous areas
  • Failure to properly train employees before putting them to work
  • Failing to ensure the pieces of equipment is up-to-date and working properly

The damages that persist under The Jones Act include medical expenses, disfigurement, pain, suffering, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. The dollar amount of damages depends on the severity of the injury and every detail surrounding each case. It is important to note, that aside from the initial accident and injury report, you should refrain from signing any paperwork that is given to you by an insurance agent that works for your employer or employer until you have hired an experienced maritime accident attorney to review all of the documents carefully.

Hire Experienced Lawyers To Deal With Complex Maritime Laws

Maritime law covers a wide range of injuries near or at sea. These cases generally involve marine vessels of any kind.  If you or a loved one has been injured at sea, it is important to speak with a maritime lawyer asap so that they can discuss the case with you and explain the legal options, rights, and remedies available to you.

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