South Korea Accident Brings to Mind the Importance of Maritime Safety
The recent ferry accident in South Korea, which claimed the lives of roughly 300 passengers, reminds seafarers that there is always potential for disaster on the water. At the least, the recent tragedy begs the following question: How safe is our ferry system?
At this time, there have not been any major accidents in Washington involving a state ferry or deaths resulting from such. In fact, most accidents have involved minor collisions onto water vessels or docks. Incidents have resulted in small monetary damages. However, Washington has the largest ferry fleet in the country and the third largest in the world. As a result, safety is a major concern.
Though accidents have not been egregious, they still happen. For example, in September 2013, a ferry collided with a 25-foot sailboat in the San Juan Islands, and an investigation pursuant to the collision revealed that human error was the cause. While accidents are not frequent, rough terrain and breezy conditions can be concerning. Moreover, the Seattle Globalist notes that in addition to human error, equipment problems and insufficient maintenance are at the source of most accidents and injuries on the water.The Jones Act: Workers injured on the water
While passengers are exposed to the dangers of the sea, working aboard vessels subjects seafarers to several risks of injury. The good news is that the Jones Act is a federal maritime regulation that protects those employed aboard a ship. When an accident results from an employer's negligence, the Jones Act provides wide-ranging coverage for crewmembers harmed at sea.
Employees aboard barges, ships, commercial fishing crafts, boats, tug boats, touring boats, cruise ships and tankers may recover under the law, providing they are in navigable waters (in sounds, at sea, bays, lakes, and rivers). Damages under the Jones Act may consist of the following:
- Former and future lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological suffering
- Vocational and employment retraining
- Loss of consortium
This recovery can help injured workers (or their families) move forward after a mishap on the water.
If you have been injured in an accident in navigable waters, your first step is to contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in maritime collisions. Maritime law is unique and complex, and only a legal professional versed in the law can help you make a claim. To learn more, speak with an attorney in the area.