In the case of a marine accident leading to injuries, most victims are unsure of whether to follow the maritime law or personal injury law in their pursuit of justice. At Morris Bart, we are well versed in both of these areas, so you can rely on our expertise to help seek compensation on your behalf.
What Is Maritime Law?
Generally, maritime law governs maritime concerns, questions, issues, or injuries that happen on navigable waters and the high seas of the U.S. This also includes various rivers and lakes and beaches, piers, wharves, and docks.
Under 28 USC §1333 in the U.S., federal courts have full jurisdiction over all the maritime laws, including your right to file a maritime lawsuit. Also, the federal maritime law permits seamen to file ‘joint and several’ liability lawsuits. This means they can sue more than one party for the injuries sustained at sea even if the liable party only caused a small fraction of the damages.
However, note that joint and several liability isn’t allowed in all states. Still, this is a vital aspect of maritime law since it allows you to file for several parties liable for your injuries instead of only one, even if the injury happened in a state that doesn’t recognize this law.
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What Is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law, also referred to as tort law, protects victims injured by the negligent acts of another person or party. This law applies to any injury you sustain as long as the injury resulted from another individual’s careless, reckless, and intentional behavior or by action under strict liability. Some of the personal injury cases that allow you to pursue justice and recover compensation for injuries include:
- Medical malpractice
- Auto accidents
- Premise liability
- Trip/slip and fall
- Wrongful death
- Construction liability
What does Personal Injury Law Protect?
Most people think of personal injuries like soft tissue damage, broken bones, lacerations, and more. But personal injury cases may or may not involve injuries to your body. These cases can involve one or more of the following categories:
- Intentional injury: Personal injuries mostly result from another party’s negligence. Also, some incidents involve deliberate harm or gross negligence that is considered an intentional injury.
- Physical injury:Personal injury mainly refers to either bodily injury, and it encompasses all types of disability, illness, and other bodily injuries that are a result of another party’s negligence. These cases can involve minor or catastrophic injuries.
- Injury to reputation: In case of damages to your reputation, it can lead to a substantial impact on your financial and emotional wellbeing. Cases of slander or defamation are also included under personal injury.
- Financial injury: Financial injury has taken place if there is a significant threat to your economic stability or your property is significantly devalued due to another person’s negligence.
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Maritime Law vs. Personal Injury Law
Both maritime and personal injury laws seek to address similar issues, but they aren’t the same. Every state has specific rules for holding parties responsible for causing accidents and injuries under personal injury law. Federal laws apply in maritime accidents because these incidents don’t happen in any specific state.
If you sustain an injury while offshore, federal law and the Jones Act will apply. Jones Act regulates both maritime operations and commerce. This act plays a significant role in addressing offshore injuries, so you need a lawyer who can explain how it applies to your case. Other differences that exist between personal injury law and maritime law include:
Maritime Law doesn’t Include Seamen Compensation Coverage
Typically, if you get injured in your workplace in the US, you qualify for worker’s compensation benefits under personal injury law. However, state laws don’t cover seamen, so they don’t have this compensation coverage to fall back on. Therefore, if you work on a seafaring vessel, you’ll need to rely on maritime law to provide you with options.
Seeking Compensation Under the Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, you can file a compensation claim or lawsuit against your employer after sustaining an injury under the 46 USC §30104. You will need to prove that your employer’s recklessness or negligence caused the accident that led to your injuries. A lawyer can help you file the claim to increase your chances of compensation based on factors such as:
- Negligence from your employer, owner of the ship, or another specific party
- Unseaworthiness of the vessel
- Maintenance and cure
What Is the Statute of Limitations of Maritime Law?
Like personal injury law, where you have a set timeline to file a lawsuit, there is a statute of limitation under the Jones act from maritime law. You should ensure that you file a claim for any injuries sustained within three years as per 46 USC §30106. Note that there may be some exceptions, so it would be a good idea to consult an experienced attorney who has represented several other people with offshore injuries before.
On the other hand, you can file for a personal injury case on different timelines depending on the state where the incident happened. Some states have a statute of limitation of just one year, while others have a timeframe of two, three, or more years.
Reach Out to Morris Bart for Legal Assistance Today
Personal injury law and maritime laws can be difficult to understand. Even worse, the rules governing maritime accidents can confuse many people, making it difficult to seek compensation after an injury. Therefore, if you don’t have extensive knowledge and experience in these areas, make sure you talk to a lawyer from Morris Bart as soon as possible.
We will help you understand both subjects and determine which best suits your circumstances. Therefore, if you sustain an injury while working both on the sea or land, reach out to us for a free consultation.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.