There are a vast number of maritime laws in place that are aimed at protecting the rights of seafarers. Though laws vary depending on the country they are enacted in, most follow the same principle: protect seafarers from harm. Working on the high seas isn’t easy. The perils are numerous and employers have a duty to make sure everyone in their employment is kept as safe as possible. Safety includes several factors, such as ensuring ship equipment is in proper working condition to prevent injury, allowing crew members to take adequate breaks to prevent fatigue, maintaining top health standards to avoid occupational diseases, and many others. Safety can also include ensuring workers are provided fast and adequate medical treatment in the event of an injury as well as keeping the peace between crew members when discord arises.
Unfortunately, vessel operators don’t always abide by the highest standards of safety. As a result, numerous accidents have occurred both while a vessel has been docked and at sea. Seafarers are often charged with lifting heavy objects, are ordered to operate complicated and dangerous machinery without possessing the necessary skills, and many times, are even denied compensation after the maritime accident has occurred. An injury on board a ship involving a crew member is treated much the same way as any other occupational injury or illness. Victims should report the incident immediately and should be treated either on board the vessel if the injury or sickness is relatively minor, or should be airlifted to the nearest hospital if the wounds are serious and the ship’s onboard medical quarters lacks the resources to treat the victim. But again, this doesn’t always happen.
Even when the accident or illness clearly resulted from a lack of safety on board the vessel where the victim was employed and even after the victim suffers debilitating injuries that might render him/her incapable of working again, employers will often try to deny victims their rightful benefits and compensation. That’s where a Jones Act Lawyer comes into play.