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Venardi Zurada

3 Laws That Apply To California Maritime Accidents


Considering its location, temperate climate, and ease of access to major shipping routes, it is no surprise that the San Francisco Bay is among the busiest in the US and beyond. The Port of Oakland supports more than 84,000 jobs throughout Northern California, while the Port of San Francisco generates almost $125.5 billion annually. These and other maritime employers support a wide range of activities, including:

  • Cargo and container shipping;
  • Ship building, re-fitting, and repairs;
  • Cruise, passenger ferry, and other water-based excursions;
  • Wharf, dock, barge, tugboat, and watercraft repairs;
  • Commercial and sport fishing; and
  • Many others.

The nature of these activities and the frenetic, hectic environment in which employees work means maritime accidents are a common occurrence. Fortunately, there are legal remedies for recovering compensation if you were hurt in such an incident. The details vary according to your role and many other factors, so you should trust an Oakland maritime accident attorney to handle the process. Some information on the laws that cover your situation is also useful..

The Jones Act

This law provides injured maritime workers with options if they are hurt while performing tasks in the course of their employment, so it is a type of workers’ compensation remedy. The Jones Act applies to seamen, including masters, crew, captains, officers, and other employees who work at least 30 percent of the time on a vessel or fleet of vessels.

If injured in a maritime accident, you can file a personal injury case in federal or state court to recover damages. You must prove that your employer was negligent by failing to provide a reasonably safe working environment. 

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

Maritime workers who do not qualify as seamen still have legal remedies, including employees who work on wharves, piers, docks, and terminals. The remedy under LHWCA is closer to what you may know about workers’ compensation laws, since you do NOT need to prove that your employer was negligent. You are barred from recovering damages for pain and suffering, but you may be eligible for:

  • Medical treatment;
  • Vocational rehabilitation;
  • Temporary benefits for total or partial disability;
  • Permanent benefits for total or partial disability; and,
  • Funeral and death benefits, in a fatal maritime accident. 

Statute of Limitations

There are deadlines that you need to know for maritime accident claims, and they vary according to which law applies to your situation. Under LHWCA, you have one year from the date of the accident to file your claim with the US Department of Labor. Jones Act claims can be filed in federal or state court, but the statute of limitations is three years. If you do not comply with these deadlines, you cannot recover for your losses.

An Oakland Maritime Accident Lawyer Will Pursue All Legal Options 

Our team at Venardi Zurada, LLP has in-depth knowledge of these laws and other details that impact your rights. To learn more about remedies after a maritime accident, please contact our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA. We can set up a no-cost consultation to learn more about your circumstances.



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