There are many risks that commercial fisherman and merchant seaman face that can, unfortunately, get them injured on the job. When these unfortunate situations arise these workers are able to receive different types of compensation, as these circumstances can lead them to lose out on earnings both present and future, incur medical bills and deal with their own amounts of pain and suffering. The question of whether or not they are also eligible to claim punitive damages in addition to this is a difficult one, and the exact answer is not something that is easily defined.
The Definition of Punitive Damages
While other benefits are there to help compensate you for any money you have lost due to an accident, punitive damages are available to do exactly what they describe and that is to punish the defendant for their actions or lack thereof. Depending on the nature of the defendant’s actions as well as the financial backing they are privy to this can all help to decide just how much money can be awarded for punitive damages. Not only that, the precautions the defendant took or did not take can be part of the equation as well, and likewise, the effect the result of the punishment may have towards any possible future victims that may be injured can increase the number of punitive damages that can be awarded for that case.
In all scenarios, in order to be awarded punitive damages, it must be proven that the defendant behaved negligently and willfully engaged in actions that led to the injury of the victim. This is something that is not easily proven, and when it comes to maritime injuries the matter only becomes more complicated.
Punitive Damages in Regards to Maritime Law
It has only recently been decided by the Supreme Court that when a commercial or merchant seaman is injured while on the job that they are in fact allowed to seek out punitive damages for their day to day living expenses and their medical expenses more commonly known as “maintenance and cure” claims.
Because of this if their employer knowingly and intentionally does any of the following they will most likely be able to be sued for punitive damages:
- Employer does not pay for maintenance and cure
- Employer is late in paying for maintenance and cure
- Employer does not pay the correct amount owed for maintenance and cure
- Employer ends workers pay for maintenance and cure without being authorized to do so or without good reason
If any of the following occurs it is highly probable that the employer will be able to be brought to court in search of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Regards to Unseaworthiness Cases
Cases that involve a ship that is not in good enough condition to be used at sea or “unseaworthiness” cases are unfortunately very hard to define when it comes to receiving punitive damages. Despite the Supreme Court ruling many judges on different circuits have interpreted the law differently and have made a concrete ruling on the subject harder to pin down. With no clear law on the books, it is only more of a reason to have an experienced maritime law attorney on your side when trying to get any and all compensation that you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an injury while working in the maritime industry do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Johnstone Carroll LLC, and work with qualified people who will do everything they can to get you the money you deserve. Contact us today at 205-509-1226 or simply fill out our convenient online contact form.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.