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What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Maritime Accident?

The skilled attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are prepared to protect your rights when you or a loved one are injured in a maritime accident.

What is a Maritime Accident?

Plainly stated, it is any accident that occurs on navigable waters. Such accidents are typically covered by general maritime law rather than the codified laws that most people are familiar with but there are exceptions, as explained below. These types of accidents happen more frequently than most people would think. For 2012, the last year reported, there were 5298 commercial vessel casualty accidents (includes groundings, collisions, fires or explosions) that resulted in 33 fatalities and 141 injuries involving 7972 vessels. For the same year, non-vessel casualty accidents (includes slips falls or electrocutions) accounted for 30 fatalities and 547 injuries involving 418 vessels. These numbers are only for commercial vessels!

There are Two Types of Maritime Accident Victims

There are two types of maritime accident victims under the law: seamen and everyone else. This is an important distinction because two different types of law apply. A Seaman is defined as a sailor who works on a vessel’s crew in navigable waters not including scientific personnel, sailing school instructors or sailing school students who has spent at least 30% of his or her career on board such vessels. The Jones Act, a federal law, covers seamen. To be eligible for protection by the Jones Act, a person must be a seaman, as defined above, suffer a personal on the job injury that was due to the negligence of another.

Generally, everyone else while on navigable waters, however, is covered by non-codified General Maritime Law.

What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Maritime Accident?

The first part of the process you should follow if you are injured in a maritime accident is really not very different than what you should do if you were injured in, say, a car wreck. You should gather information about the accident, take pictures if possible of the scene of the accident and of your injuries and try to obtain witness information. This is the common-sense part of the process.

The second part of the process is far more complex, especially since maritime accidents tend to be larger in scope and complexity. Often, a specialized investigation and report need to be completed to determine exactly what happened in the accident. This is more similar to an accident reconstruction performed by state police in a traffic accident that involves fatalities than what you would get in an ordinary traffic accident. Finally, you should contact an attorney to protect your rights. However, whether you think that your accident is covered by the Jones Act or regular maritime law, you need to contact an experienced maritime lawyer not just the first personal injury lawyer you find in the phone book.

Why Do I Need a Maritime Lawyer?

Laws governing maritime accidents are incredibly complex and specialized. Cases involving the Jones Act need the expertise of attorneys who work on Jones Act cases all of the time. Cases under maritime law need the same. You wouldn’t hire a small engine repair expert to work on your racecar. Maritime cases are similarly different.

The attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P. A. are the experienced experts that you need to protect your rights, whether under the Jones Act or under general maritime law. We have over 50 years of experience managing these cases and getting our clients the results they deserve. We serve both Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Please give us a call at (877) 475-2905 to set up your free consultation today.

Client Reviews

I am a lawyer in Massachusetts. I had a case to refer against a cruise line in Florida and did my homework on which firm to represent the client. Let me take the guessing out of it for you. Call this law firm and sign up. Brandon Parrelli, Google User
A big shout out to Nick Gerson & Schwartz for helping me navigate my care after a fall against a major cruise ship. They took care of me all along the way and saw me through such a very hard time. I highly recommend their firm if you are looking for a firm that truly cares about you. 5 Stars all the way! Janna Wright, Google User
Mr Nick Gerson has been extremely attentive (even on weekends!) and has been more than willing to take time to answer all my questions. His receptionist (Suzanne) and paralegal (Carla) are courteous, friendly and highly efficient in all matters. Mr Gerson's diligence lead to a very quick resolution of my case. I am more than pleased to recommend you seek him as your attorney. You will not regret you did!! G.I.B.
Mr. Gerson and all his team gave to my case the careful and professional attention it needed from the beginning to end. Unfortunately, a year ago I was involved in a car accident on the victim side. I have appreciation for the good service that was given to me and my situation. Thanks. Cales & Mr. Hyde (Carlos Andrés García Jiménez), Google User
Gerson & Schwartz did an excellent job with my case! Nick Gerson was my primary contact throughout the process and I was overly pleased with his level of professionalism and commitment. Thanks again to the firm for both winning my case and handling it with the upmost respect. Read the full review » Jhlechia Ervin
Phil is the best attorney! The staff is very helpful and were always kind and understanding. Especially during a PIP claim which can be very frustrating. I am so lucky that I found Gerson & Schwartz to resolve my case, I truly believe there could have been no better outcome. Romina Frascarelli, Google User
Excellent attorneys, they leave no stone unturned in any case and get max value. Jon Zepnick, Google User
I hired Gerson & Schwartz, PA for a personal injury/slip and fall case. Phil Gerson, Nick Gerson, and Ed Schwartz were awesome! They were very professional, supportive, and informative through the whole process. I was amazed at how much time and effort they put into presenting my case. They fought hard for me and I am very happy with the outcome. I love these guys and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an attorney who will look out for your best interest and fight hard for what you deserve. Deb Betts, Google User