September 30, 2022
April 7, 2024

How Do Damages Work in Maritime Injury Settlements?

Most of the time, maritime injury cases are settled out of court. This is often done to save time and expenses associated with a costly trial. However, settlements can come with their own challenges and issues, especially when it comes to damages. Read on to learn more about how compensation works in a maritime settlement.

If you’ve been injured on the job in a maritime work setting, insurance adjusters and even your own employer may attempt to pay the least amount possible for the costs associated with your injuries. Insurance companies in the maritime industry are known for offering low settlement offers to injured workers in attempts to save as much money as they can. 

For instance, they may claim the accident is your fault or may try to reduce the damages by claiming there is a pre-existing injury present. 

Many maritime workers are not aware of their legal rights or what they are entitled to in a maritime injury lawsuit or settlement. Various laws provide rights to compensation for costs such as lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. 

An experienced maritime injury attorney will be aware of the tactics that insurance agents and employers may try to get workers to sign documentation giving up their rights to sue. If you or a loved one were injured while working in a maritime job, you may need legal representation to ensure you are fully compensated for your losses. Contact the maritime attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000 to schedule a free consultation regarding your rights. 

What Are the Types of Damages Covered in Maritime Settlements?

A maritime accident settlement can cover a wide range of damages or losses connected with your injury. The types of damages available will depend on your individual case, but most settlements will cover: 

  • Medical bills and hospital costs
  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement or scarring (where applicable)
  • Costs associated with living expenses
  • Mental or emotional anguish

Generally speaking, the more severe the injuries, and the more the worker’s daily life and abilities are affected, the higher the damages award should be. During settlement negotiations, both parties will present their arguments and evidence for the settlement amount, and will aim to achieve an agreement on the final award. 

A skilled attorney will be able to secure the maximum amount of damages the injured maritime employee is entitled to under maintenance and cure laws (maintenance and cure refers to payments issued to the seaman to assist with living and medical expenses while they recover from an injury).  

How Long Does Compensation Take in a Maritime Lawsuit?

There is no set time that determines when compensation will be issued to an injured maritime worker. In general, it can take anywhere from a month or two before compensation kicks in, but again this will vary from case to case. 

The amount of time it takes to obtain compensation from a maritime settlement can depend on factors such as: 

  • The severity of the maritime injury
  • How much work time was lost during medical recovery
  • Whether there are any unique or challenging legal issues involved
  • Whether the employer was negligent or intentionally resistant in issuing the compensation

A qualified maritime injury attorney can assist with the legal requirements to ensure that the process is moving along in a timely manner. They can also alert the injured person if there are any delays in the process or potential violations of their legal rights. 

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are a special type of damages. They are not compensatory (intended to compensate the injured worker for their losses). Instead, punitive damages are awarded with the intention of punishing the liable party and deterring them from repeating similar actions in the future. 

They are typically awarded in claims involving intentional, willful, or reckless behavior on the part of the defendant. When it comes to punitive damages in maritime cases, there are several considerations to factor in. 

How Do Punitive Damages Apply in a Maritime Lawsuit? 

Historically, the laws have been in flux with regard to punitive damages in maritime injury lawsuits and settlements. The Supreme Court recently issued a landmark decision on the subject; the result is that punitive damages are definitely allowed in cases involving maintenance and cure. 

For instance, punitive damages may be available if the employer intentionally or recklessly: 

  • Failed to pay the proper amount of maintenance and cure
  • Failed to pay maintenance and cure altogether
  • Delayed in the payment of maintenance and cure
  • Terminated the employee’s maintenance and cure without good cause

Thus, if you believe any of the issues are affecting your compensation, you may need to contact a lawyer for legal representation. 

On the other hand, punitive damages may be limited or not allowed in certain Jones Act cases or in cases involving unseaworthiness (where the sea vessel is deemed unsafe or unworthy to sail). Overall, the issue of punitive damages in a maritime injury lawsuit or settlement is complex, and best left to the analysis and review of a lawyer. 

A skilled and qualified lawyer can ensure that all your bases are covered, so you aren’t leaving any money on the table during negotiations. They can also ensure that you obtain compensation for costs not covered by traditional insurance policies.

How Can a Maritime Lawyer Help?

A maritime lawyer can help ensure proper compensation is obtained by those who need it. Working in a maritime environment can involve more complex issues than those involved in other industries. A lawyer can help by: 

  • Building a strong strategy: The amount of compensation in a settlement often depends on the skill and experience of the lawyer
  • Reviewing legal requirements: An attorney can ensure that all forms and documents associated with your case are signed and filed properly, so you don’t miss any deadlines
  • Negotiating with skill: Insurance adjusters and company representatives are trained to negotiate for the lowest settlement possible; most maritime employees aren’t in a position to negotiate, and need a lawyer to help with their case
  • Researching the law: As mentioned, maritime law is one area of law that is subject to frequent change; a lawyer can ensure you are kept up-to-date with the most recent changes

A skilled and qualified lawyer can ensure that all your bases are covered, so you aren’t leaving any money on the table during negotiations. They can also ensure that you obtain compensation for costs not covered by traditional insurance policies.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Maritime Claim? 

The assistance of a lawyer is indispensable when it comes to pursuing a maritime claim. Maritime workers are often exposed to hazardous conditions, but sadly, are often not fully compensated as they deserve to be when injured. 

Maritime cases can involve many legal nuances and are best handled by a firm that works specifically with such types of claims. At Pierce Skrabanek, our firm has extensive experience representing those pursuing compensation for a maritime injury. 

If you or a loved one were injured while working in a maritime setting, contact us at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000. We can set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss your next steps and how to proceed with your claim. 

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