Understanding Third Party Liability for Maritime Accidents
Maritime accident claims are handled differently than typical workers’ compensation cases. Generally, a maritime worker’s exclusive remedy is through general maritime law and federal legislation such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Defense Base Act, or the Jones Act. Those who are injured at work or develop a work-related illness must seek recovery only through the federal acts. However, if someone other than the employer was responsible for the accident, the injured worker may sue that party for additional damages in a third-party claim.
Types of Maritime Accidents and Injuries
Longshoremen, merchant seamen, fishermen, shipbuilders, and other maritime workers may become injured in various maritime accidents involving:
- Cargo hauling
- Cargo ships
- Commercial fishing
- Cruise vessels
- Marine crane operations
- Offshore oil rigs
Maritime workers face many hazards including choppy seas, dangerous equipment, toxic substances, and physically demanding labor. As a result, they may become injured on the job or develop an occupational disease. Some common injuries our South Jersey maritime accident lawyers have seen include:
- Back injuries
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones/fractures from slip and falls
- Chemical burns
- Fatal injuries
- Injuries from fires/explosions
- Toxic fume exposure/asphyxiation
Maritime Accident Compensation
Under general maritime law, employers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect employees from known risks and maritime workers are entitled to reasonably safe workplaces. Maritime workers who are injured at work or who have been diagnosed with a work-related illness are often unsure about their legal options for financial recovery. Typically, they must file a claim under general maritime law or the applicable federal act, which generally allow them to recover compensation for medical care, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses.
Third-Party Liability for Maritime Accidents
In addition to filing a claim for benefits under the LHWCA or other federal law, maritime workers may bring civil suits against third parties whose actions or inactions contributed to their injuries. Third parties such as equipment manufacturers, crane operators, or vessel owners may be liable for the injuries or illnesses they negligently or intentionally cause. Such third-party claims are advantageous for the worker because they allow for additional forms of recovery not otherwise available in workers’ compensation claims, such as pain and suffering.
However, employees may not obtain double recovery from both workers’ compensation and third-party injury claims. Therefore, if an employer has already paid compensation and the injured worker recovers compensation in a third-party suit, that money must be repaid to the employer to cover the amount of benefits they paid out. The remaining amount will then be paid to the worker or in the event of a fatality, to the deceased workers’ surviving family members.
Cape May Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Help Maritime Workers File Third-Party Claims
If you were injured at work or you lost a loved one in a maritime accident, contact a Cape May maritime accident lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help you obtain the maximum benefits to which you are entitled, including potential third-party compensation. We represent workers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina including those in South Jersey, Gloucester, Cape May, and Wildwood. For a free consultation at one of our offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, and Pinehurst, contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962.