Three Laws Victims of Miami Maritime Accidents Need to Know

Due to its location, climate, and ease of access to the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and other major waterways, it is no surprise that Miami is a major shipping and cruising hub. In fact, the Port of Miami is one of the busiest cargo ports in the US, and it is the largest passenger port in the world. The sprawling facilities located in Biscayne Bay account for more than 334,000 jobs and bear an economic impact of $43 billion for the State of Florida every year. 

Working around harbors and watercraft of all sizes is dangerous, so these 334,000 maritime employees are putting their lives and safety at risk every workday. The potential for injuries and even life-threatening accidents is high, so it is reassuring to know that there are several laws that protect you. The key is knowing which ones apply to your situation, and a Miami maritime accidents lawyer can explain the details. Your circumstances may trigger:

The Jones Act

This statute creates a type of federal workers’ compensation for employees who qualify as “seamen.” The definition includes individuals who contribute to the operation of a vessel, on navigable waters, for at least 30% of their work time. The Jones Act pays medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but you must prove that your maritime employer was at fault in causing your injuries.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

Some employees work around boats and harbors, but do not qualify for protection under the Jones Act. You may be covered by LHWCA if your job tasks include:

  • Loading and unloading cargo;
  • Repairing ships, watercraft, and equipment;
  • Building and refitting ships; and,
  • Any other work around piers, docks, wharves, cruise terminals, and storage facilities that are on or adjoining navigable waters.

This statute also establishes a type of federal workers’ comp system, but LHWCA is no-fault. You do not need evidence showing that your employer was negligent in causing the maritime accident. However, you cannot recover for pain and suffering.

Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)

When a maritime worker dies in a maritime accident more than three miles out from US shores, this federal statute applies. DOHSA pays damages when the fatality is the result of wrongful misconduct, neglect, or some other type of legal default. It is possible to recover damages if you are the deceased victim’s:

  • Surviving spouse;
  • Child; or,
  • A dependent relative.

Under DOHSA, survivors can recover the compensation that the maritime worker would have received had he or she not been killed. Note that the decedent’s personal representative has standing to bring a DOHSA claim on behalf of the above individuals.

Consult With a Miami Maritime Accidents Attorney for Free 

These are just a few of the laws that apply when a maritime worker is injured on the job, but there are many others. To learn how our team can support your needs, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to schedule a free consultation. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL at (305) 371-6000 or via our website.

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