Do I Need a Maritime Lawyer?
Speak with a maritime lawyer in any situation in which you suffered injuries in a maritime setting or lost a family member to a maritime accident. Injuries result in medical and other expenses, and a lawyer can help you recover those costs. In the event of a fatality, you may be able to recover damages for wrongful death. Federal maritime laws govern lawsuits filed by victims of accidents on ships and in other maritime settings.
Some examples of situations that require an expert lawyer include:
- You got hurt on a cruise ship vacation, whether the incident occurred on the ship or not.
- A ferry you used for transportation collided or crashed, causing an injury.
- You hired a fishing boat and suffered an injury on a recreational excursion.
- You worked on a ship, in a shipyard, in a terminal, or on an offshore platform and suffered injuries on the job.
- A loved one died after an accident on any type of ship, whether they were working or a passenger.
If someone contacts you about an accident, such as a ship owner or insurance adjuster, talk to a lawyer first. They may offer you a settlement that is less than what you deserve.
What Can a Maritime Lawyer Do for Me?
Talking to a lawyer after an injury in a maritime setting will help clarify your situation and options. Federal maritime laws may apply in your case, and they can be confusing. There are several things an expert in maritime law can do for you:
- Explain complicated laws.
It is essential that you choose a lawyer experienced in maritime cases. Even in cases of passenger personal injury, the laws are unique. You may be subject to maritime laws as well as the fine print on a passenger ticket. The right lawyer will understand the applicable laws and what it means for your situation.
- Tell you if you have a case.
Understanding whether or not someone is negligent and if you can sue is challenging without expertise in the law. A lawyer specializing in maritime cases will be able to give you the best advice about whether it makes sense to proceed.
- Investigate and determine negligence.
If a lawyer thinks you have a case, they can provide the necessary resources for proving it. They have experts and investigators who will uncover the truth and determine who is at fault and can be held liable.
- Get compensation.
An injury can leave you with permanent pain or disability or even keep you from working. A good lawyer gives you the best chance to recover damages for the costs.
Many injury cases end in a settlement because going to trial is risky for defendants. If you cannot get a settlement, a lawyer will take the defendants to court and fight for your right to compensation.
How to Find a Maritime Lawyer
This is a very specific type of lawyer, so search for a firm with specific expertise in maritime law. If you are a maritime worker, limit your search to those who help seamen. If you were injured as a passenger, look for a personal injury lawyer with maritime expertise.
In addition to area of specialty, look for these qualities in a lawyer or firm you hire:
- The lawyer you work with must have a proven track record with clients injured in maritime accidents.
- You need a lawyer skilled and experienced in both settlement negotiations and litigating in court.
- They should be willing and able to provide references from past clients.
- Don’t settle for a lawyer who charges an initial fee. You should be able to get a free case evaluation from a reputable firm.
- Make sure the lawyer you choose is available to answer all your questions and is easy to contact.
- Continency payment plans are important in negligence cases. If a lawyer demands an upfront fee, they probably don’t have the resources to take your case.
- A good lawyer will not offer you a guarantee of a win or a certain amount of damages.
- Most of all, choose a lawyer you feel comfortable with, and who makes you feel confident.
Working with a Maritime Lawyer
Finding the right lawyer to take your maritime case is just the first step to winning your case. You must partner with your legal team and provide what they need to recover damages and have a good outcome. How you work with a lawyer makes all the difference.
Be Honest About Everything
Lawyers are bound by ethics and the law to retain confidentiality with you. They cannot use the information you provide unless you allow it. They need you to be honest about everything in order to help you. Tell your lawyer everything and answer their questions truthfully, even if you think it implicates you or makes you look bad.
Recall the Details
Reliving an accident can be traumatic, but providing every detail you can remember is important. Your lawyer needs to know exactly what happened. Take time to recall the terrible incident, what led up to it, and what happened after the accident.
Your lawyer needs your recollections but also hard evidence. They will conduct an investigation, but any documentation you can provide will be useful:
- An accident or injury report
- A police report, if applicable
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Information about the vessel, including passenger documentation and ticket agreements
- Photos of your injuries
- Medical reports and bills related to your injuries
- Your job information if the injuries have prevented you from returning to work
Ask Questions and Discuss Payment
Your lawyer will ask you a lot of questions, but you should also ask questions. You are a better partner in your lawsuit if you stay up to date on how it’s going and what you can do to help. Ask all the questions you have to clarify expectations. Also, talk about fees and payment plans, so there are no surprises.
Maritime lawyers advocate for victims of accidents in shipyards, on vessels, and in ports. They can help you after workplace injuries or unfortunate vacation accidents. Contact a lawyer as soon after a maritime accident as possible to get the ball rolling.