On October 1, 2015, a freighter ship by the name of El Fargo sank in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas. All 33 of its crewmembers died in the sinking. In Florida, a family of a now deceased crewmember filed a lawsuit under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the “Jones Act,” against the captain and owner of the ship, Michael Davidson. The freighter ship departed from Jacksonville, Florida en route to Puerto Rico carrying cars and other cargo. The ship eventually lost power to its engine and failed to avoid a category four hurricane. The Florida wrongful death lawsuit filed against the ship’s owner and captain demands $100 million in damages. Basically, the captain and owner of the freighter ship negligently decided to sail the 41-year-old freighter ship into the dangerous storm, putting all passengers’ and crewmembers’ lives at great risk.
First, however, to be protected under the Jones Act, the worker must establish that he is a seaman. A seaman is a person who spends a large amount of time working as a captain or as a crewmember on a vessel that is considered to be in navigation. If you or your loved one is an injured crewmember or captain, it is imperative that you hire an experienced maritime lawyer to establish your entitlement to legal protections under the Jones Act. The maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA provide legal representation for seriously injured crewmembers and ship employees. For over 40 years, our lawyers have litigated these complex claims. Our personal injury law firm will fight for your legal rights.
Your Rights under the Jones Act
Per the Jones Act, individuals or crewmembers that are classified as “seamen” that are injured on the job are entitled to damages. In particular, they are entitled to have their medical bills, like hospitalization, physical therapy, and lost wages paid by their employer. These obligations are named “Maintenance” and “Cure”. “Maintenance” refers to one’s obligation to pay a seaman wages if they suffer an injury leaving them unable to work. The vessel or employer must continue to pay the injured seaman all of his or her wages for the duration of the voyage and until they are fit to return to their job duties. If the seaman is never able to return to work, he or she may be entitled to disability payments. “Cure” is the legal requirement of the vessel to provide prompt medical care. This obligation also includes the duty to pay for all medical treatment from an injury that is reasonably related to the seaman’s job.
Once established that you or your loved one is a seaman, the elements of negligence must then be met. This requires a showing that the captain or employer owed you a duty of care and that they breached said duty of care. You must show that the breach caused your injuries and that you did in fact suffer injury. Due to the complexity of the law, it is critical that you hire an experienced maritime attorney. This will better ensure that you are adequately compensated for your loss.
Take Action and Hire the Right Attorney for Your Case
Contacting an experienced maritime accident attorney in Florida is important to establish entitlement to these legal protections under federal law. The maritime personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have more than 80 years of combined experience handling a variety of accident, injury, wrongful death claims including claims for missing persons. Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in all Florida state and federal courts. Our Florida law offices are located in Miami, Florida near the port of Miami and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. We will not charge you for your case unless we recover money on your behalf. Contact us today for a consultation.