One of the more volatile and contentious areas of maritime law is the defense of U.S. personal injury cases. Maritime work on and around vessels, active shipyards and terminals, whether by seamen, longshoremen or other marine workers, can be a hazardous occupation which carries a risk of injury. Jones Act seamen do not have a typical workers’ compensation entitlement scheme, but have instead maintenance and cure benefits in addition to the right to commence lawsuits against their employers for a host of damages. Longshoremen, while having a compensation system, can also in certain circumstances file third-party claims against shipowners for injuries that occur on the vessels on which they are working. The reported case law on the interplay of these two fields is vast and the firm’s attorneys have a wealth of experience in understanding and applying this ever evolving area of the law.
The firm has considerable experience in investigating and litigating maritime personal injury cases through trial and appeal in both State and Federal Courts, with a long record of success. We routinely represent both blue and brown water vessel owners and operators, and examine daily the relevant issues that affect them. Our attorneys are armed not only with the practical experience and knowledge of our clients’ vessels and marine operations, but also have technical expertise and a personal familiarity with the local New York/New Jersey ports and terminal facilities, which allows us immediate access and entry to perform necessary incident investigations on short notice.
The firm’s approach is to provide as thorough a defense as possible in an economical manner. This approach includes not only an intensive investigation as to the liability facts, but also a full examination of the medical aspects of the case. If our investigation indicates that a settlement is warranted, we promptly advise our client and seek authority to commence productive negotiations. If our conclusion is that there is no liability or questionable liability, or that the claimant’s damages are exaggerated, then we will vigorously defend any litigation brought against our client. With this approach, not only have we avoided catastrophic results, but we have also succeeded in turning away claimants with questionable claims.