How to Prove Negligence in a Maritime Injury Claim

February 15, 2023

Maritime workers face many hazards on the job, such as heavy machinery, slippery decks, harsh weather, and long hours. These hazards can lead to severe injuries, such as broken bones, burns, head trauma, spinal cord damage, and more.

If you are a maritime worker injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer or a third party. However, you must prove that your injury was caused by negligence to receive compensation.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a legal term that means a failure to act with reasonable care. In other words, negligence occurs when someone does something or fails to do something that a good person would not do in the same situation.

For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits a pedestrian, the driver is negligent because a reasonable driver would not run a red light and endanger others.

In a maritime injury claim, you must prove that the defendant (the person or entity you are suing) was negligent in some way that caused your injury. The defendant could be your employer, a co-worker, a contractor, a manufacturer, or anyone else with a duty of care towards you.

How do you prove negligence in a maritime injury claim?

To prove negligence in a maritime injury claim, you will need to prove four elements:

  1. Duty: You must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act or refrain from acting in a certain way towards another person. For example, your employer must provide you with a safe work environment and proper equipment. A manufacturer must produce safe and defect-free products. A contractor must follow safety regulations and standards.
  2. Breach: You must show that the defendant breached their duty of care by acting or failing to act reasonably. A breach of duty violates the duty of care the defendant owed you. For example, your employer breached their duty by failing to inspect or maintain the equipment that caused your injury. A manufacturer breached their duty by producing a faulty product that malfunctioned and injured you. A contractor breached their duty by cutting corners, ignoring safety rules, and creating a hazardous situation.
  3. Causation: You must show that the defendant’s breach of duty was your injury’s actual and proximate cause. Real cause means that your injury would not have occurred if the defendant had not breached their duty. Proximate cause means that your injury was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s breach of duty. For example, your employer’s failure to inspect or maintain the equipment was the actual and proximate cause of your injury because it was foreseeable that the equipment would malfunction and injure you. A manufacturer’s faulty product was the actual and proximate cause of your injury because it was foreseeable that the product would fail and harm you. A contractor’s negligence was the actual and proximate cause of your injury because it was foreseeable that their actions would create a dangerous situation and hurt you.
  4. Damages: You must show that you suffered damages due to your injury. Damages are the losses or harms that you incurred because of your injury. Damages can include economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. Damages can also include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that protects seamen injured on the job. A seaman is a person who works on a vessel that is in navigation and contributes to the vessel’s function or mission. Examples of seamen include deckhands, engineers, captains, mates, cooks, and more.

The Jones Act allows seamen to sue their employers for negligence if injured on the job. Unlike workers’ compensation, which only covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, the Jones Act allows seamen to recover their employers’ full damages, including pain and suffering.

To file a claim under the Jones Act, you must prove the same four elements of negligence as in any other maritime injury claim. However, the Jones Act has a lower standard of proof than other negligence claims. You only need to show that your employer’s negligence played a slight or minimal role in causing your injury. This is known as the “featherweight” causation standard.

Why Do You Need a Maritime Injury Lawyer?

Proving negligence in a maritime injury claim can be challenging, especially if the defendant tries to deny or minimize their liability. The defendant may argue that you were partly or wholly responsible for your injury, that their negligence did not cause your injury, or that your damages are exaggerated or unrelated to your injury.

That is why you need the help of an experienced maritime injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP, who can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. A maritime injury lawyer in Houston, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, or Port Arthur can help you by:

  • Investigating the cause and circumstances of your injury
  • Collecting and preserving relevant documents, records, and witnesses
  • Hiring experts to testify on your behalf
  • Calculating and documenting your damages
  • Filing and handling your claim under the appropriate maritime law, such as the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or the General Maritime Law
  • Negotiating a fair settlement with the defendant or their insurer
  • Taking your case to trial if a settlement cannot be reached

A maritime injury lawyer can also advise you on the best course of action for your case, depending on the type and severity of your injury, the applicable maritime law, and the statute of limitations.

How do you contact a Maritime Injury Lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP?

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, contact a Houston maritime injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP as soon as possible. The sooner you get a lawyer, the sooner they can start working on your case and protect your rights.

To contact a maritime injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP, you can:

  • Call us at 800-489-2216 for a free consultation
  • Fill out our online contact form, and we will get back to you shortly
  • Visit our website and learn more about our services and experience
  • Visit our office and meet with us in person

We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and assist you with your case. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.

Don’t wait any longer. Contact us today, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Get a Free Case Review by Calling Morrow & Sheppard Now.

We’re available 24/7.

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