Commercial divers injured during diving accidents may have legal rights to recovery under federal admiralty and maritime law. While a non-maritime legal expert may be familiar with state negligence or wrongful death law, a maritime attorney will best be able to determine whether maritime law applies. This could mean the difference between the amount of recovery for your injury, the time period in which you must file your injury or wrongful death claim, and even whether recovery is possible at all.
What to do if you are injured in a diving accident
It is important to know your rights and to know what benefits you may be entitled to if a diving injury or tragedy happens to you. The Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Law Attorneys at Brais Brais Rusak represent diving accident victims and their loved ones with over 70 years of combined experience. Brais Brais Rusak have recovered for victims under maritime law through the Death on the High Seas Act, the Jones Act, failure of employers to provide maintenance and cure, and unseaworthiness among other maritime or state law based causes of action.
Employers who negligently caused or failed to prevent a diving accident often try to avoid or limit their liability by arguing that the injured diver was not a seaman under the Jones Act and not entitled to recover under that law, or the employer may invoke the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act which limits the employer’s liability to no greater than the post-accident value of the vessel the diver was employed on. A good maritime attorney knows how to get around these common legal strategies to avoid liability so that the injured diver or family members may still recover the legal benefits owed to them under the law.
Whether a diving accident falls under the Death on the High Seas Act or the Jones Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) applies to deaths occurring beyond 3 nautical miles of the shores of any U.S. State or Territory. An experienced maritime attorney will be able to determine whether an accidental death falls under DOHSA or state wrongful death statutes. Brais Brais Rusak have experience helping clients recover under both the DOHSA and state wrongful death statutes.
Ships also owe a duty of seaworthiness to all passengers, and can be liable for injuries to seamen under the Jones Act even when the injured seaman knew of and accepted the dangerous conditions which caused the seaman’s injuries. Seaworthiness is not only a duty to make sure a ship does not sink. It also involves properly maintaining a safe ship with an adequate crew. For a diver to recover for injuries under the Jones Act, a maritime attorney may have to prove that the diver had Jones Act “seaman status”. Seaman status is determined by factors like, “how much time the diver spent working at sea for the company” and “whether the diver’s work directly contributes to the operation of the ship or the purpose of the ship’s operations”.
Contact Brais Brais Rusak at 1-800-499-0551 for a consultation about your rights as an injured diver, crew member or passenger.