RIGHTS AND REMEDIES OF INJURED SEAMEN
RIGHTS & REMEDIES OF INJURED SEAMEN
Claims by injured seamen fall under the maritime law. Maritime law differs substantially from traditional state law as to employers’ liabilities for death or injury to employees. Maritime law regarding death or injury to seamen has evolved from ancient maritime codes rather than state statutes. Accordingly, unique remedies and defenses to liability exist in the context of seamen claims. One unique remedy available to seamen is maintenance and cure.
Passengers and other visitors and invitees aboard vessels have causes of action against vessel operators for the negligence of an employee of the operator. Seamen have causes of action for negligence of their employers under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104. Under the maritime law as it has evolved from the ancient codes, “seamen” are entitled to remedies of maintenance, cure and unearned wages and are entitled to money damages resulting from unseaworthiness of the vessel. Whether a person who becomes ill or is injured while he performs services aboard a vessel is classified as a “seaman” determines whether the person is entitled to seamen’s remedies, or to general maritime law tort remedies for negligent injury to a passenger or other visitor, or, in the case of longshore workers, ship repair workers and other harbor workers, to the limited remedies that are available under the federal Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Seamen, as are other persons, are entitled to bring third party actions against non-employer third parties, for negligence or other tort liability such as product liability causes of action. A shipowner is strictly liable irrespective of fault on the shipowner’s part or comparative fault on the part of the seamen for “maintenance, cure and unearned wages”; if the injury is proximately caused by any unseaworthy condition of the vessel; and, if the injury is caused in any respect by the negligence of the seaman’s employer, under the Jones Act. Often the nature of the remedy available and elements of damages recoverable to an injured party turn on whether or not he qualifies as a “seaman”. Generally an individual be he a floor hand or a commercial diver working offshore will meet the qualification necessary to bring a claim as a “seaman”. This claim is typically filed pursuant to the Jones Act 46 U.S.C. § 30104.