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Maritime Personal Injury Law: Intensely Fact-Driven

Savannah, GA Maritime Injury Lawyers - Charleston, SC Maritime Injury Lawyers

Because of the many potentially applicable laws, remedies, and defenses that are available to all or some of the parties involved, maritime personal injury law is intensely fact-driven. One small difference in the facts as placed into the evidentiary record can create a large difference in the result, including if the worker may even bring a lawsuit in the first place.

One such seemingly unimportant difference may be seen in the example of a seriously injured shipyard worker seeking compensation beyond the typical federal workers’ compensation remedy allowed under the LHWCA.

General maritime law allows such a worker to bring a lawsuit to recover his full damages, including pain and suffering, against any vessel interest (owner, charterer, etc.) and other non-vessel third parties. 33 U.S.C. Sections 905(b) and 933.

Occasionally, the vessel interest is the employer itself. Such a lawsuit is called a dual capacity claim against the employer. The basic concept is that the employer wears two hats: one as the employer and the other as the vessel interest.

As insurance companies know, this fact-driven aspect of maritime personal injury law provides an advantage to the party - employer, vessel, or worker - who is able to gather reliable information quickly. Speed is critical.

Such information can be photographs, witness statements, accident reports, safety plans, deck logs, engine logs, pilot cards, production schedules, and similar items. Speed in gathering the information is vital. That is why, nine times out of ten, an insurance investigative file is open before our clients ever walk in the door.

The insurance companies already have armies of attorneys waiting in the wings.

If you have sustained a serious injury, you should seek competent legal counsel who can inform you about your rights.

Maritime Injury and Damages

Call us to restore your family's finances through the law

The primary aim of maritime law compensatory damages is to restore you and your family to your financial status before you were injured. These are called financial or pecuniary damages.

Pecuniary damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses, including rehabilitation, medication, prosthetics, and additional medical procedures
  • Past and future wage loss and earning capacity
  • Past and future loss of fringe benefits, including group health plan, 401(k), mileage reimbursement, or other items

In most cases, we will retain, on your behalf, experienced vocational evaluators, nurse case managers, and forensic economists, to review the details of your case and to give their opinions about these past and future financial losses. These expert witnesses, whose charges we advance as a part of our handling of your case, are trained to defend their opinions in state and federal courts.

Non-pecuniary damages are non-financial damages. The basic thrust of the law is that life is more than a paycheck or forcing insurance companies to pay your medical bills from insured maritime companies. Otherwise, negligent parties would be able to affect the quality of your life without consequence.

Past and future non-pecuniary damages may include:

  • Physical pain. Many times, this is demonstrated by the type and strength of pain relievers prescribed by your doctors.
  • Mental stress. A common example is sleeplessness due to physical pain or worrying about how to pay normal household and medical bills.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. Not being able to spend quality active time with your family and friends is an example. Not being able to take your children or grandchildren fishing or being unable to work in your flower or vegetable garden may be examples.

Depending on your case, other types of damages, such as permanent impairment, permanent disability, loss of consortium, or loss of society, may be available.

Dredge Workers - Are you a Jones Act Seaman?

Representing Dredge Crews Since 1986

Contact Maritime Attorney Charles Raley at charles@raleylawfirm.com

Do you have the considerable remedies allowed by the Jones Act at your disposal if you are injured? The United States Supreme Court has, over the past several years, ruled several times on the issue of seaman status.

To qualify as a Jones Act seaman:

  • The worker must contribute to the mission and function of the vessel; he or she must do the ship’s work.
  • The worker need not aid in navigation of the vessel.
  • The Jones Act and the LHWCA are not necessarily mutually exclusive remedies.
  • The worker’s connection to the vessel must be substantial in duration and nature; to be “substantial,” 30% is a good rule of thumb, although not conclusive.

A land-based worker’s connection to a vessel or an identifiable fleet of vessels cannot be substantial if based upon a series of casual, sporadic assignments for non-seagoing work aboard a general pool of vessels owned by different companies.

Do you qualify as a Jones Act seaman? Is arguing that your claim is a Jones Act claim the best way to protect your interests? We can help you find the answers to your questions.

Before You Sign a “Final Release”

A release is a document that closes your claim forever. In most cases, this will also place a freeze on the insurance company’s liability for your future medical expenses. Consider the following:

  • What are the pros and cons of settling?
  • Have you considered all the legal, factual, and medical issues?
  • Have you tried to return to work?
  • Is medical treatment, even periodic, continuing?
  • Do you have claims or other rights that you have not considered yet?
  • Does the money being paid for your signature represent a realistic and reasonable amount, given the details of the case?

If you have sustained a serious injury, you should call experienced maritime attorneys who can inform you about your rights and the value of your case.

Ports Where We Work

Our office is located in Savannah, GA, a bustling river city serving as the hub of a thriving coastal region.

Ports where we have served our clients include:

  • Savannah, GA
  • Tybee Island, GA
  • Charleston, SC
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Brunswick, GA
  • Darien, GA
  • Midway, GA
  • Crescent, GA
  • Hilton Head, SC
  • Beaufort, SC
  • Awendaw, SC
  • McClellanville, SC
  • Georgetown, SC
  • Murrell’s Inlet, SC
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Little River, SC
  • Supply, NC
  • Southport, NC
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Wilmington, NC
  • Norfolk, VA
  • New York, NY
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Lynyard Cay, Bahamas
  • Houston, TX
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