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Injured Seamen Are Allowed to Seek Punitive Damages Under Maritime Law

Seamen have jobs that require hard labor and intense physical work. When they get injured on the job, they need to know that they have rights and they will be covered financially while they heal from their injuries.

When a seaman is injured during the course of his job, he is entitled to receive maintenance and cure from his maritime employer. However, what if that employer did not interpret the General Maritime Law in the same way that the employee did?

Injured seamen may wish to also seek punitive damages for their economic and environmental losses, in addition to maintenance and cure. But, can they?

Because of specific federal statutes that prohibited an award of punitive damages in the past, many companies believed that the Oil Pollution Act, the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act barred claimants from seeking punitive damages. Although this was the interpretation many had, under General Maritime Law, punitive damages are in fact available.

According to a new ruling by a U.S. District Court Judge in New Orleans, the Supreme Court ruled that there are no restrictions for injured seamen to recover punitive damages with regards to maintenance and cure actions. He also ruled that the U.S. Oil Pollution Act did not have any effect on claims under the General Maritime Law for punitive damages.

This means that offshore workers can seek punitive damages under the General Maritime Law for economic environmental losses.

If you have been denied maintenance and cure and are thinking about pursuing punitive damages, please call the Voss Law Firm and have an experienced Texas Jones Act attorney sort through your case to determine your rights. We will provide you with a free legal consultation at 888-614-7730 today.
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Harold May 04/17/2012 02:51 AM
I wish my seaman friends knew this. This would be great for them if they were ever injured on the job. Some of them do not know what rights they have, and some do not have enough money to hire accident lawyers. Knowing that they can claim for damages to health would be great!
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