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New York Maritime Law Blog

Drinking and boating do not mix

These are both state and federal laws on the books that prohibit skippers from operating their vessels on the water while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Just like driving a car under the influence is hazardous, operating a boat while you're on drugs or alcohol can be life-threatening to you, your passengers and other boaters around you. Approximately one-third of all recreational boating fatalities are alcohol-related.

Maritime workers have rights to medical benefits if they're hurt

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers workers on the navigable waters of the United States should they become disabled. It provides them with compensation for medical care and vocational rehabilitation among other benefits.

Longshore or harbor construction workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers are all examples of traditional maritime occupations that are covered under this act. All of these workers are entitled to reasonable medical care under the LHWCA. This includes being examined by a doctor, hospitalized and undergoing a surgical procedure. They're also entitled to receive treatments, prescription drugs, physical therapy, diagnostic tests and reimbursement for travel expenses under this federal law.

Common reasons why boaters have accidents

One thing that many New Yorkers look forward to doing over the summer is getting out on the water in their boats. This uptick in water vessels during this time of the year doesn't come without dangers. There are some common reasons why individuals get hurt while at sea during this time of the year.

The summer brings with it a higher risk of you encountering rough seas. This may be brought about by an increase in high winds and thunderstorms during this time of the year. Speeding in treacherous waters can make your journey more unsafe.

What can I do if I'm injured on a ferry trip?

Ferries are a common form of transport. They can be used for recreational purposes or sometimes as part of a person's daily commute. Millions of people use ferries across the country each year. In 2014, 103 million people used ferries as a form of transport.

With such a high number of yearly passengers, injuries on ferries are undoubtedly going to occur at one point or another. If you have been injured on a ferry, likely, you suffered considerably, and you may have been subject to financial costs such as medical bills as a result. If this is the case, you will likely be wondering what you can do to gain back damages for your injury.

Remember that you have rights under the Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is also known as the Jones Act, turned 100 years old this year. It prescribes certain requirements that vessels must meet to be allowed to carry passengers and goods from one U.S. port to the next. There are many pros and cons associated with the Jones Act for both seamen as well as operators.

Pieces of legislation such as the Jones Act are considered to be a type of cabotage law. This means that it covers the transportation of both passengers or goods between two different ports located within a single country. These efforts are usually carried out by freight transportation operators from other countries.

Your rights under the maintenance and cure doctrine!

If you work in the maritime industry, then you probably first heard about the concept of "maintenance and cure" when you were first training for your role. Your trainer probably instructed you that this benefit is much like what worker's compensation coverage is for those individuals who work on the land. Both protect workers who become injured or ill while on the job. Maritime workers must meet certain requirements to be entitled to receive maintenance and cure.

Seamen that are covered by the maintenance and cure doctrine are generally eligible to have their repatriation back to their home base covered. They also qualify to receive compensation for any incident-related transportation as well as food, utilities and lodging costs that they may incur while convalescing. All of the above-referenced falls under the maintenance umbrella.

What happens if skippers aren't skilled in navigating rough seas?

One of the first things that captains learn in their seamanship classes is about how to best handle their water vessels if they come upon rough seas. There can be severe damage to the boat and mass human casualties if a captain doesn't take proactive measures in instances like this.

Rough seas can make it hard for boats to stay upright. They can easily swamp and capsize as they're battered back and forth as they navigate choppy seas. Well-prepared vessels and experienced captains can often survive unexpected changes in currents though.

Can you recover damages if you're hurt while working at sea?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) was enacted to provide compensation to workers who were injured while on the job in the United States' navigable waters. Most any worker who becomes disabled is entitled to medical care, lost wages and vocational rehabilitation to help them cope with what they're going through. If a longshore worker dies from their injuries, their next of kin may be entitled to survivor's benefits.

This piece of federal legislation protects workers employed in traditional maritime occupations. Virtually anyone who works as a longshore or harbor construction worker or as a ship-repairer, builders or breaker is protected by this legislation.

What does unseaworthiness mean?

Commercial boat accidents are much like plane crashes. They don't happen all that frequently, but when they do, they're often catastrophic. One of the reasons why water vessels become involved in serious accidents and people aboard often end up hurt is due to unseaworthiness. This is a term that legal analysts use to describe any situation that renders a boat unsafe and causes injuries.

It's the water vessel owner's responsibility to provide a safe place where crew members can work. Ships, offshore oil rigs, boats, barges, helicopters and even on-land transportation are all classified as "water vessels" under existing maritime laws. If the owner of one of these structures or modes of transportation fails to uphold their obligation to ensure worker safety and someone gets hurt, then the injured crew member may be entitled to file an injury claim.

Long Island municipality faces another lawsuit after boat crash

Although no one expects a car accident, most drivers know how to handle one. They may take photographs of the scene for insurance purposes or call the police to report a serious incident. But the process can be unclear in the case of a boating accident, when effects or liability may not be as obvious to victims and their families.

Two of the three people who experienced injuries in a recent boat crash off Long Island are suing the nearby town for damages. The incident occurred near the entrance to James Creek, a common waterway on the so-called "fishtail" of land at the east end of Suffolk County.

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