Common Questions

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Navigating your Case to a Safe Harbor

  • The following questions are commonly asked of us by prospective clients.
  • The responses below are for basic informational purposes only.
  • Every case is complex.  Every case is different and often unique on the facts and law.
  • These answers to commonly asked questions do not apply to every case and do not constitute legal advice.
  • These responses do not constitute an attorney client relationship and unless and until our firm enters into a fee contract with you, do not rely on this information. 
  • If you do become a client, we will answer your specific questions based upon the unique facts of your case. 

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In its simplest form, Maritime and Admiralty law applies to claims and cases that occur on or near the water.  Maritime law is the body of law that governs activities at sea and in navigable waters, and with respect to shipping and watercraft of many kinds. Most cases involve a boat, ship, or watercraft of some kind and occur on or near the water.  If you have been injured and your claim arises from events that occur on or near navigable waters, please call us.  Our cases involve injury and death of seamen, injuries to longshoremen by vessels and crews, boating accidents, cruise ship injuries and more.  The maritime law is complex and it is impossible to cover every kind of claim or explain every aspect of Maritime law on this page.  We will let you know if we think you have a maritime case. 

No:  You are entitled to understand your rights.  Your employer and most all companies have lawyers and insurance companies who are protecting the rights of the employer.  Often the employer, their lawyers and insurance companies are taking immediate and calculated actions to minimize the recovery of the injured worker.  You may have been their best employee, but once you are injured, they will likely treat you like a number on an accounting spreadsheet.  As litigation is an adversarial proceeding many injured workers feel they are attacking their employer if they get a lawyer.  Truth is, it doesn’t have to be adversarial but generally once there is an injury the parties are at odds.  Protect yourself, the company will most definitely protect itself. 

As soon as possible.  Companies often speak to their lawyers immediately.  Managers, officers and supervisors are often schooled in claims and work against the rights of an injured worker.  Injured parties should speak with a lawyer too.  There are crucial facts, witnesses and pieces of evidence that must be established and preserved.  Evidence disappears and memories fade.  The sooner the better.  There are also strict time deadlines for all cases so speaking to a lawyer immediately is always better.  Understand your rights now and it will pay off for you in the end.

No:  all communications between you and our law firm are confidential.  Our firm would never communicate with anyone about your injury, or possible representation, claims or suits without your prior authorization.  Likewise, you will never know if your employer is talking with their lawyers, but you can assume they are.

We will conduct a free consultation with you during which we ask you many details about what happened and how you were injured.  If you are a seaman, a member of the vessel’s crew, you may have a case based on theories of negligence under the Jones Act and/or Unseaworthiness.  You also will be entitled to maintenance and cure.  This includes a daily living allowance and payment of all of your medical bills until you are fit for duty or at maximum medical cure.  If you are a longshoreman, you may have a case to pursue based on theories of negligence against the vessel owner separate and apart from your worker’s compensation claim.  If you are a passenger or an invitee, you may have a case to pursue based on theories of negligence.  The law in these areas is complex and hard to understand for laymen.  We will review and analyze the facts and circumstances and the applicable law to determine if you have a case.  Some people without knowledge of the law assume they don’t have a case when in fact the law provides them a remedy for their injuries.  Without knowing the law like we do it is virtually impossible for you to guess about whether you have a case. 

If you are a seaman, a member of the vessel’s crew, generally the answer is No.  You are entitled to your medical treatment (Cure) and a daily stipend (Maintenance).  In some instances, you may be entitled to Unearned Wages.  In exchange for giving up worker’s compensation as a seaman, you are entitled to sue your employer for negligence and unseaworthiness. 

If you are a longshoreman, generally the answer is Yes. You likely will be entitled to Longshore Compensation benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.  But depending on the facts, if the vessel you were working on was negligent, you may also be entitled to sue the vessel owners or operators. 

No.  Every case/claim is unique.  Some can be resolved through negotiations or mediation well prior to a lawsuit being filed.  We explore all options with our clients and together make the best decision based on their individual case, needs and circumstances.  Many injured parties would rather not go to Court and want to put their claim behind them as soon as possible.  Under these circumstances we explore settlement at the earliest possible time.  Settlement depends on the circumstance and both side’s willingness to compromise.  Some cases cannot settle and a lawsuit may be necessary but this is always the choice of the client with the advice of counsel. 

Probably not.  Under the law seamen are entitled to bring a suit against their employers.  If they are fired for bringing a claim the employer, under certain facts, can be sued for retaliatory discharge or illegally firing the seaman.  Often however, it is difficult to tell why the seaman was discharged as the employer will likely present reasons other than injury and claims for firing.  Each case is different and must be evaluated on the facts.  Longshoremen may have similar legal protections. 

Maybe. Seamen have a right to choose their own doctor under the law.  Often an employer has a relationship with certain doctors who may render medical opinions favorable to the employer.  Seamen have the right to go to an unbiased doctor of their choosing to get fair, complete and honest opinions about their injury and get treatment. 

With that said, the seaman has a legal duty to cooperate with the employer in his treatment and provide the employer all medical information about the on-the-job injury.  Examination by a company doctor may be required under certain circumstances, but for treatment the seaman can and should choose their own physician.  It often takes the appearance of a lawyer representing the injured seaman to make the company give the seaman the doctor of her choice. 

At times, Longshoremen also have the right to choose their doctor but before making that decision the Longshoreman, under worker’s compensation, should consult immediately with an attorney who practices in that area to obtain advice about his obligations and duty to cooperate. 

Not always.  You may have the right to decline giving a statement under certain circumstances.  You may not want to give a statement if you are in physical pain and discomfort, or on pain medications.  Pain and medications make concentration, comprehension and focus difficult, which could impair your ability to give an accurate statement about your accident and injuries.  Some companies have policies that require giving a statement and failure to comply could affect your employment.  This must be determined on a case-by-case basis.  You always have the right to consult with a lawyer of your choice to answer your questions.

Yes, and better.  We can handle your case better because we have extensive experience (combined legal experience of over 60 years), knowledge and training in handling maritime cases.  This is a specialized area of the law and many lawyers who advertise for maritime cases do not have that experience, knowledge or training.

Our small law firm gives you the attention of two attorneys handling your matter.  You will speak directly with each of us.  Every case we take is approached as a team effort.  Long before large firms started advertising the team approach, we were already managing every case as a team and giving our clients the benefit of that combined effort.  We have resolved many cases over the years and recovered many millions of dollars.  With that said every case and the value of that case is dependent on the facts of that individual case.   We handle large and substantial cases every day. 

There is no one answer to this question that is accurate and truthful.

What we can promise is to evaluate your individual case and give you our honest opinion about value and seek all recoverable damages under the applicable law.  We have found this approach leads to informed clients which results in satisfied clients.  It is not honest to put some hypothetical big number on every case without evaluating the facts and the law. 

There is no initial consultation fee.  There is no attorney fee if we do not make a recovery in your case.  There are no costs that you owe if we do not make a recovery in your case. The Florida Bar approved contingency fee contract will apply in your case if you are an injured party.  Our firm takes a percentage of your recovery only if we win and recover money for you.  Before we represent you as your attorneys, we will present and explain The Florida Bar approved contingency fee contract and answer all of your questions including how the fee and costs will work. At the end of every case, the client receives a detailed closing statement which sets out the fee, expenses and net settlement amount to you. 

This question sometimes arises due to the close-knit maritime working community.  On the docks and ships there may be discussions about your co-workers and their potential claims/cases. Every single case is different based upon many factors including but not limited to facts, evidence, witnesses, injuries, medical treatment (current and future), lost wages, lost future earnings, loss of enjoyment of life and many other factors.  The law can vary depending on the facts of the case and who the parties are.  While we cannot honestly promise a specific amount of money to any of our clients, we will honestly promise to fully and fairly evaluate all aspects of your case to give you the best possible legal advice and outcome for your unique situation.  We do our best every day on every case and we have found that this usually satisfies the client at the end of the day.

We have decades of legal experience and training. Only a trained maritime lawyer is in the position to give you an accurate and meaningful estimate of the value of your case.  If you rely solely on internet research and not on advice of counsel, there is a good chance you could be misled about the real value of your case.  We want our attorney client relationship with you (the client) to be one of mutual trust and respect.  If you trust and respect us, listening to our advice based upon years of legal experience and training will follow.  We will always give you our best advice for your individual case/claim.  We will always answer your questions to the best of our ability.  We ask that you (the client) trust and respect our ability to do our job for you.  One can find any answer one wants on the internet, but the law is complex and there is no substitute for finding a good lawyer, trusting them and listening to their counsel and advice. 

Following an injury, it is not uncommon for employers and/or insurance companies to push for a quick settlement. Often, companies are not concerned with the victim. Rather, they are worried about their bottom line and how to save money. Due to this, they can be reluctant to pay the injured worker a fair settlement. They may call you soon after the accident, offering a settlement that is well below the amount you could receive if represented by our firm. If this is your situation, you should speak with us so that you can get a fair estimate of what damages are available under the law and fair compensation you should receive.

Yes.  You can, but it is not recommended.  For many families, an injury can cause a large financial burden to be placed on their shoulders. Maritime workers who were making great money are left with little to no income and a lot of stress.  It is hard to make the bills.  They are left to navigate a complex legal environment with no experience.  If they hire our firm, we have found that a heavy and complex burden is lifted off their shoulders. After hiring our firm, we communicate with the employer and its insurance companies.  The stress and uncertainty of going it alone is gone and the client can focus on getting treatment, getting well and hopefully getting back to work.  We, the lawyers, analyze the case and its value and work to ensure a fair and full settlement for the client. 

It is impossible for us or any law firm to present or answer all of the potential questions a client may have on a website.  We encourage you to call us and we think you will find that we are professional, friendly, honest, and willing to have an open, transparent, and confidential discussion with you about your potential claim.  We will happily spend the time necessary to understand what happened to you and let you know what we think.  You will never bother us by calling or meeting us for a free consultation.  We are good listeners and we are very passionate about helping and representing injured maritime workers and others who may be injured on or around the water.  Just pick up the phone and call us and we will be honored to discuss your case.   

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Admiralty, Maritime and Boating Accident Specialists

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