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Oakland California Maritime Law Blog

Is a seaman’s release of claims enforceable?

When accepting a personal injury settlement, the injured party must sign a release absolving the negligent party from any future injuries arising from the accident. This is also the case in the maritime industry, in which seamen face a myriad of risks and often find themselves injured as a result. Pacific Maritime Magazine explains seaman’s release of claims and whether these acts are considered enforceable.

Right to Compensation

Why can workers' compensation be denied?

Working in the maritime industry, you have a dangerous job. You work with heavy machinery, and you face unpredictable variables, like the weather. Accidents happen. You have seen people suffer serious and even life-threatening injuries.

That's why there's a safety net in the form of the Jones Act, which governs work injuries suffered by seamen. If you are injured on the job, your medical bills and other costs will be covered. 

Boating while intoxicated is widely underestimated

At the Law Offices of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates, we understand that working on a sea vessel can be stressful and dangerous. As such, we also know that a ship’s crew may blow off steam by having a few drinks. There is nothing wrong with safely imbibing, but as you know, people may drink and drive, as well as boat and drive. This can present serious safety issues for California mariners.

Boating under the influence is usually a charge that applies to recreational boaters, as FindLaw explains. In the summer months or in warmer climates, combining pleasure boating with alcohol is common with those who are escaping from their everyday lives. However, this doesn’t mean you are invulnerable to the dangers. Many boaters underestimate the potential impact of operating a vessel with alcohol in their systems, since ships aren’t restricted to narrow roads with traffic close by. Your crew members may also falsely assume that getting drunk on a ship is no big deal.

The most common accidents that happen on deck

You have worked on container ships for the better part of the last decade. It is a career that fits what you enjoy in life. You like the irregular hours, the physically demanding work and the unique lifestyle. You enjoy the job, and it pays the bills. You were always taught the value of hard work, and you have put that to good use. You're proud of what you've done.

At the same time, you understand that working on a ship is not the safest job. Whenever you tell people what you do for a living, they always ask about storms and the risk of a shipwreck. You understand the way the general public romanticizes these types of events, and you do what you can to explain how safe it is and the precautions you take.

What should you know about maritime injury claims?

As a variety of Californian jobs involve being out on the open water, it's to be expected that workers like you risk facing injury while on boats. The Law Offices of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates, who handle maritime and personal injury law, are here to help you understand more about making maritime injury claims.

The first thing to understand is that many different types of shipboard injuries can be eligible for compensation. For example, lifting heavy cargo or dealing with hoisting or heavy lines can result in you suffering from muscular strain, back problems, or even dislocated joints if the loads are heavy enough. Improper training or equipment can add to this danger, making dealing with cargo on a ship very troublesome.

What are some ways cruise ship employees can get injured?

Previously, we discussed injuries that cruise ship passengers may suffer during their voyage. This does not mean that crew members are impervious to injuries. In fact, cruise line employees in California and elsewhere are vulnerable to the same mishaps that passengers are subjected to. As you may be aware, you and your fellow crew members may also be in accidents that are not as common among passengers, due to your line of work.

You may remember a shocking 2015 tragedy that occurred aboard a cruise ship off the Florida coast. CNN reported that an electrician had been working inside an elevator shaft during the voyage and was crushed when the elevator car he was standing on began moving. Traumatized passengers witnessed blood pouring down the outside of the elevator doors following the accident. The worker did not survive the incident.

Why is commercial fishing so dangerous?

Fishing for fun is typically relaxing, safe and uneventful. Many people enjoy it as a way to pass the time on a lazy Saturday afternoon. They take their children with them, kick back, relax and see if anything bites.

So, why is it that commercial fishing is often referred to as one of the single most dangerous jobs in the world? Why did one study find that professional fishermen are 42 times more likely to pass away at work than workers in other fields? How could something so low-key and enjoyable turn so very deadly?

Who is responsible if you get injured on a cruise ship?

When you book a cruise, you are looking forward to the vacation of a lifetime. You are probably not anticipating an injury or illness, but people regularly get injured during cruises, either on the ship or at a port of call. Many passenger ships dock along the California coastline, but their voyages frequently take them into international waters, which may leave you wondering where the liability resides if you seek medical attention after a cruise injury.

There is a wide range of possible injuries or illnesses you could encounter while cruising. You could slip on a wet deck and sprain your back. The captain may be forced to turn the ship sharply to avoid an obstacle in the water, knocking a heavy suitcase from an overhead cabinet on top of you. An outbreak of norovirus can spread quickly among the passengers and crew. You could suffer burns or smoke inhalation if a fire breaks out in a passenger area. It is even possible for some crew members to behave aggressively or unprofessionally and injure you in a confrontation.

Diving injuries: A few things you need to know

Does your job require you dive into the ocean, day in and day out? Is this something you enjoy? Are you concerned about the safety risks of your profession?

Deep-sea diving and scuba diving, either for business or pleasure, can be enjoyable. However, this doesn't mean that you can take your safety for granted. You are at risk of many injuries, so it's important to receive the appropriate training and to follow safety protocols at all times.

Basics of the Jones Act

People in California who live along or near any of the state's ports know that guarding these ports is important. Equally important is the logistical tracking of vessels into and out of the ports. There are many elements to this as well as laws. One such law is commonly referred to as the Jones Act. As the Los Angeles Times indicates, the official name of the Jones Act is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

As with many laws, this piece of legislation was initially developed in response to a situation that was very timely at its inception. Today, however, many people believe that the relevance of this law is no longer there they way it may have been almost a century ago. This is despite the fact that it has been supported by both republican and democratic presidents even from this century.

Begin Your Recovery Today

  • Whether you are a maritime professional or were injured on a cruise ship, our attorneys can help. We have represented clients from every West Coast port city, including Oakland (where we’re based), San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Long Beach, San Pedro and San Diego. We also serve clients from the Gulf Coast.

  • To speak with one of our maritime lawyers, call the Law Offices of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates in Oakland at 510-291-4743, 888-340-7991 or contact us online.

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