When an injury or wrongful death occurs onboard a ship, there are considerations to be weighed before a maritime personal injury action can be filed. One important question that needs to be answered is whether the person was a passenger, a worker, or a longshoreman when they were injured on the ship. Employees and longshoremen have other ways to have their injuries compensated for, but passengers are a different matter. In fact; some may be precluded from taking action against the shipowner, captain, or even the ship itself if they didn’t have express permission to come aboard. That lack of permission qualifies them as trespassers.
Differences Between State Law and Maritime Law
In Maritime Law, passengers can sue for a personal injury because they have a right to expect the shipowner to exercise reasonable care towards those lawfully aboard the vessel. On land, a person assumes a similar right to expect a property owner to exercise reasonable care on their premises. If this duty is breached on the ship and it causes an injury, a claim of negligence can be made.
Wrongful Death at Sea
If a wrongful death occurs, there are two statutory causes of action that can be taken:
A state cause of action can be taken if the death occurs within the three-mile limit and with death on the high seas, a cause of action can be filed if the ship is passed that three-mile limit. State law has only one wrongful death cause of action. In some cases in Maritime Law, another difference can be found when a wrongful death or personal injury occurs in that the plaintiff can sue the vessel as part of the action. On land, no one can sue a premise.
The maritime personal injury professionals at Rushing & Guice have represented many gulf coast residents who have been injured while passengers on board a boat or ship in personal Injury and wrongful death actions. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to negligence on board a seafaring vessel please contact Rushing & Guice, we are experts in this type of case.