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Maritime injuries and being declared unseaworthy

Maritime workers in Louisiana are a work class unto themselves because their work is unlike any other craft, and the employment positions are diverse. Different workers have different responsibilities, but all are working in the same dangerous environment that can result in a wide variety of injuries. When someone is injured, the company is liable to protect employees just like land-based employers. However, the dynamics of how financial compensation is determined for sea workers differs significantly due unseaworthiness.

How seaworthiness is determined

Maritime workers typically spend more time at sea while working than on land during their time away from the vessel. Because of the nature of their work, they largely live on the job in their work environment. In order to work according to maritime law, they must be “seaworthy” with respect to the ability to work and live on their assigned vessel. Being injured beyond the ability to work means the worker is not seaworthy from a health perspective.

Maintenance and cure compensation

Sea workers who are unable to perform job duties due to a workplace injury are deemed unseaworthy, but the fact that they spend most of their time on the vessel means that one particular element of their compensation when injured is due to their living expenses while off vessel. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that they are owed “maintenance and cure” as a result of their work injury, which amounts to compensation for living expenses and payment of medical bills while incapacitated along with the remaining pay for the trip during which the injury occurred.

How a maritime lawyer may help

One of the main problems with maritime injuries is that they often take time getting the case into a court room for an initial hearing. In addition, shipping companies often defend against claims because they know being declared unseaworthy also allows for standing to file a personal injury claim. An injured sea worker may seek representation from a maritime law attorney who understands how to craft an injury case for maximum value.