What constitutes negligence in a maritime work environment?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2023 | Longshore And Harbor Workers |

Maritime workers often have demanding and dangerous jobs. They may be away from their families for days or weeks at a time and are at risk of severe injury or even death. Unlike those working in a land-based job, maritime workers may have more of a challenge securing compensation if they get hurt at work.

Most employees can qualify for basic workers’ compensation benefits. They do not need to prove that their employer was at fault, as the coverage is a form of no-fault protection. That is not true for maritime workers. However, those seeking compensation for a maritime injury under the Jones Act typically need to have grounds for a lawsuit against their employer. Usually, those grounds include a claim of negligence. What do injured offshore and maritime workers need to know about employer negligence?

Reasonable people must recognize the issue

What constitutes negligence can differ from case to case. There is a standard commonly used by the courts to determine if a situation actually involved actionable negligence. People sometimes call it the “reasonable person standard.” If another reasonable adult would hear the details of the situation and agree that one party was negligent, then the plaintiff may have grounds for a lawsuit. Negligence can involve either failing to do what is necessary for safety or engaging in behavior that is obviously unsafe.

Negligence must be the cause of the injury

Simply proving that negligence occurred on a ship or an oil rig does not necessarily give a worker a claim for compensation. They would also need to establish that the negligence on the part of their employer directly caused their injury. Failing to maintain certain components on a vessel, for example, could lead to catastrophic failure that causes a worker injury. It will be necessary to connect the alleged negligence to the injuries that a worker suffered to pursue compensation under the Jones Act.

An injured maritime worker may struggle to articulate their situation effectively and may be at a disadvantage because they need to take their employer to court in pursuit of compensation. Receiving proper support and learning more about the law could benefit those hoping to pursue compensation for a maritime work injury.