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 40 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.

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