March 2012 #2


March 2012

As a merchant seaman you are vulnerable to numerous safety hazards and slips and falls are among the most common. From wet or oily decks to slick ladder rungs every surface can be dangerous. It is important to recognize areas aboard the vessel where increased hazards may exist. When you first join the vessel take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the areas where you may be required to work. Worn non-skid or portions of a vessel's deck that are exposed to the elements showing excessive wear should be identified and addressed. If you work in the engine room keep an eye out for oil leaks or other liquids that commonly end up on the deck. Containment areas also pose potential slipping hazards. Interior passageways can also develop slippery walking surfaces from fluids carried into the house from outside or from within.

Report any such hazards you may encounter as soon as possible. Your supervisor should be put on notice of any such problem areas. Also, remember to address these concerns at the regularly held safety meetings aboard the vessel. Make sure your concerns are put in the minutes of the meeting should documentation later be required. By doing this you protect yourself and your fellow crewmembers should the issue not be addressed and an injury later occurs.


Dear Mr. Cavin,

"I slipped and fell on the ship but didn't report it until the day I was leaving the vessel and now I need medical treatment. The shipowner is now hassling me on my request for maintenance and cure. What should I do?"

Stephen D. New Orleans

Your employer is responsible for maintenance and cure if your illness or injury arose as a result of your service on the vessel. The only requirement is that the condition be linked to your service aboard the vessel even if it manifested symptoms after you left the vessel.

It is always important to report your accident as soon as possible, especially if you suspect you may have incurred any injury that could lead to lost time. Employers frequently tell seamen that maintenance and cure is not owed unless the illness or injury became apparent while still on the ship and was reported. This is simply incorrect under the maritime law!

About Our Law Firm

For more than four decades, merchant mariners, longshoremen, fishermen and harbor workers plying their trades at sea, on the docks, on our U.S. coastal waters and inland waterways have turned to the maritime law firm of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates in Oakland. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the preeminent maritime law firms serving injured marine workers nationwide, as well as one of the most successful personal injury litigation firms serving victims of negligence in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.

Team Approach to Every Personal Injury and Jones Act Claim

When you retain Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates with a Jones Act injury claim or personal injury claim, you don't get just one attorney, you get our entire team of dedicated professionals. Our attorneys offer more than 150 combined years of courtroom and negotiated claims settlement experience. We will represent your interests with unwavering dedication, speed and expertise.