Jones Act- Table of Contents
Hiring a Hawaii Ocean - Boating - Maritime Attorney for accidents and claims
Ocean, Boating and Maritime Injuries in Hawaii
If you have been seriously injured in an
ocean, boating or maritime accident in Hawaii you should consider getting the advice of
an experienced ocean, boating and maritime accident attorney.
Here at Injury Lawyer Hawaii we have been representing the victims of
serious injuries and wrongful death resulting from ocean, boating and
maritime accidents for over 30 years.
For some considerations in finding a personal injury lawyer
in Hawaii to assist you, please examine:
Considerations in finding the right injury lawyer in Hawaii
Deadlines to file Ocean, Boating and Maritime Accident claims in Hawaii
The deadline for filing a claim in court arising out of an ocean, boating or maritime
accident in Hawaii can be difficult to determine. Similar
situations may have very different deadlines for filing.
Some claims are state law claims and generally follow Hawaii's
two (2) year statute of limitations. It must be recalled, however,
that pursuant to state law- claims against
the City and County of Honolulu and the other counties are
generally subject to a 6 month deadline-
which means immediate action is often required.
Other claims for ocean, boating and maritime
personal injury or death fall under federal maritime law
which generally has a three (3) year statute of limitations.
46 USC Appendix section 763a. Even under federal law, however,
the deadline may be different from claim to claim. Claims against the United
States, for example, have a two (2) year statute of limitations
46 U.S.C. section 741, 781. Please note also that for some
maritime claims, there are limitations of liability and
claim deadlines in the small print on the ticket or in the contract of
passage documents. These deadlines often are as short as six months
or even one month.
These have often been enforced by the courts in the past -
so it is best to meet
these deadlines to keep them from becoming an issue
(See, eg., Kendall v. American Hawaii Cruises, USDC Hawaii (1989)).
In short it is best to promptly
investigate and assert any claim which you think you may
have - and to obtain competent legal assistance immediately to help determine any
filing deadlines which may apply.
Additional Information about Ocean, Boating
and Maritime Accident claims in Hawaii
of an ocean, boating or maritime accident claim
can be difficult and costly.
Nonetheless, a timely investigation of all available evidence
related to the case may be critical to a favorable outcome.
Photos and videos of relevant conditions -the inside and the
outside of the vessels, the waves or ocean conditions, the reefs, sandbars, signs,
buoys and channels, any other dangers giving rise to the accident, the activities
being carried on in the area of the accident, etc.- the dive equipment, surfboard,
bodyboard or other equipment involved, the area(s) where the injuries and damages
were sustained and the injuries and damages themselves may prove invaluable in
proving up an accident claim to a claims adjuster, a judge or a jury. Photographic
or video documentation of the accident should be done as soon as possible.
We here at Injury Lawyer Hawaii generally provide a high level of this type of
assistance for cases in which we are retained.
Applicable law and choice of forums.
Generally, cases involving ocean, boating and maritime accidents
include a very complicated hodge-podge of traditional (and often inconsistent)
maritime and other ocean and boating related doctrines and claims.
In spite of the Federal Courts' so-called "exclusive
jurisdiction" over admiralty claims, most ocean, boating and maritime
accidents have one or more causes of action which can be
brought under state law. Often state law is the quickest and most promising
avenue for recovery. Sometimes there is more than one state
where the action can be brought (and occasionally more than
one country). Selecting the correct forum in which to pursue
this type of claim can be very important.
and harbor workers are generally covered for work related
injuries by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation
Act. This act provides benefits similar to the federal worker's
compensation program, which benefits are also administered
by the federal Office of Worker's Compensation Programs
(OWCP). The Accident Lawyer Hawaii office does not
generally handle LSHWCA claims unless
they are an integral part of a personal injury
claim which we have agreed to handle.
Although claims against the employer are barred
(in most circumstances) because of the availability of LSHWCA
coverage, there may still be claims for recovery against
a third party who is independently responsible for the injuries
and loss. Where a third party is responsible for the injuries,
Accident Lawyer Hawaii would be glad to provide a free consultation to see if we
can assist you on your case.
For more information on the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation
Act, please click here:
Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
Seamen (Crew members) and the Jones Act
We have an extensive library of information on the Jones
Act and seaman cases decided under the Jones Act on this
Jones Act- maritime law and case summaries
The Jones Act provides medical and sustinence payments
called "maintenance and cure" to partially cover
medical expenses and wage loss after an injury. The Jones
Act also provides a cause of action for personal injuries
caused by negligence or the unseaworthiness of a vessel.
Contributory negligence (even on a large scale) is not a
bar to such a claim, but only reduces the amount of any
damage award on a pro-rata basis.
This office does handle
Jones Act cases in an appropriate case.
Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
Cruise Ship Liability & Passenger Claims
Claims against a cruise line after an injury are typically controlled by the terms of the contract of the passenger with the cruise line. Courts have generally held that the terms of the contract of carriage win out over any statute of limitations set by state law. Moreover, these contract terms also frequently also dictate an even shorter deadline within which the cruise ship company must be provided notice of the particulars of any personal injury claims. For example, in Hawaii, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit after an injury caused by negligence is typically two years. However, if a cruise ticket says a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within one year, you must do so or else risk losing your right to file a lawsuit against the cruise line at all. Even more time pressure often comes from the notice requirements to advise the cruise ship company after injuries on a cruise line. Moreover, the notice requirements of cruise ship contracts are routinely upheld. These notice requirements typically require the injured person to notify the cruise line of the nature of the injuries and that a lawsuit is expected to be filed against the cruise line. The notice usually typically must be filed within a six-month time period, and the period is sometimes as short as one month after the incident occurred.
As a preliminary hurdle to cruise ship passengers who wish to make a claim for damages received during a cruise, most cruise ship operators have choice of forum clauses in their contracts of carriage requiring that the injured person file suit in Florida or some other inconvenient place. The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii has held such clauses to be "fundamentally fair" unless, for example, the passenger received the contract containing the provision just a few days before departure and therefore had no opportunity to reject the contract without forfeiting the entire cruise fare. Corna vs. American Hawaii Cruises, 794 F. Supp. 1005 (D. Haw. 1992).
While the passengers are aboard the vessel, a cruise vessel operator owes its passengers a duty of care
to not negligently injure them and to warn them of any known dangers,
Peters vs. Titan Nav. Co., 857 F.2d 1342 (9th Cir. 1988). However, there is also
considerable precedent that a vessel operator is
not an insurer of its passengers' safety. Hence, not every passenger who is injured onboard a cruise ship
is entitled to recover damages. Recovery is usually only available for cruise ship passengers when they
are negligently injured by
the conduct of the master or crew- or when the owner/operator has failed to warn of known dangers present
on the vessel.
The contract of carriage on an ocean going vessel imposes a duty on the carrier to transport passengers safely,
exercising reasonable care under the circumstances. Chan vs. Society Expeditions, Inc., 123 F.3d 1287
(9th Cir 1997). The duty of "reasonable care under the circumstances" has been described as ". . .
requiring more diligence on the part of the ship owner with respect to risks that are not
normally encountered by passengers in their shoreside lives."
For risks while a cruise ship passenger is outside an area controlled by the
vessel operator/owner (eg involved in a shoreside activity), there is an issue as to whether
or not the person falls within the definition of "passenger"
for purposes of the contract of carriage and maritime law. There is a split of authority
on this issue
in other jurisdictions and it does not appear that any 9th Circuit or the Hawaii
District Court has ruled on this issue. If the person is still considered a
"passenger" entitled to a duty of due care from the vessel owner/operator while on shore,
then it is probable that our courts would apply standard shore based rules of negligence.
For example, if the vessel operator/owner
has actual or constructive notice of a safety problem off the vessel and if it is dangerous enough so that a
reasonable man would give warnings to the passengers for safety reasons, then it is likely that
the owner/operator probably has a duty to warn its passengers of the danger.
Other Links of Interest
U.S. Coast Guard boating information
The recreational boating section of the U.S. Coast Guard Web site provides news, statistics,
recall information, safety information and applicable regulations for the recreational boater.
Contact information for all recreational boat manufacturers in the U.S. is also provided.