Maritime law and Jones Act litigation cases are complex and can take many years to complete. If you are an attorney or plaintiff with expenses piling up while a settlement remains to be paid out, RD Legal Funding may be able to help. By converting your settled cases into immediate cash, our proprietary Fee Acceleration funding program can provide immediate lawsuit financing. Fill out the brief application to the right to become eligible for a free consultation with a legal funding specialist — or call 1-800-565-5177 to speak with a Fee Acceleration expert.
Generally federal courts hear maritime and admiralty lawsuits about the problems associated with sea navigation and commerce. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 requires that goods and passengers transported by water between U.S. ports — cabotage — be done in U.S.-made ships, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. What is known as the Jones Act is found in Section 27. It was presented by Washington Senator Wesley L. Jones to address seamen and sailors’ terrible working and living conditions. It provides them with the ability to seek damages from the crew, captain, or ship owner in the case of injury. Unlike other personal injury suits, the vessel owner is liable for even the slightest breach of his duty of care, and this is true even if the victim assumes the risk of injury by participating in this line of work.
Seamen have additional protection under the maintenance and cure doctrine. Regardless of negligence, a ship owner is required to provide medical care, free of charge, to a seaman injured in the ship’s service until reaching maximum medical cure. Maritime workers who are not eligible for maintenance and cure may be eligible for compensation through The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. Ship owners also owe a duty of reasonable care to passengers.
Recent maritime disasters have raised serious legal questions surrounding environmental issues, liability apportionment and emergency response, procedural challenges, and complexities in insurance policies and coverage.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground and capsized off the Italian coast, resulting in the loss of 32 lives. The ship was owned by the Costa Crociere S.p.A. cruise line which was in turn owned by Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc. Cases against Carnival, brought by passengers on the ill-fated voyage, have resulted in conflicting verdicts. On February 4, 2013 a federal judge ruled that a case brought by three passengers and their parents should be filed in Italy, not the United States. The same judge, on February 11, reached the opposite conclusion in two cases, involving 104 Costa cruise passengers, filed in state court in Florida. The second case has opened the way for further litigation in the United States.
Choice of law has played a major role in the litigation swirling around the recent BP oil spill, including controversy about Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon “Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit.” Among the many claims against, amongst other defendants, BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, were allegations of negligence, gross negligence, strict liability for manufacturing and/or design defects, and attorneys’ fees under general maritime law. On August 26th, 2011 the federal court found that the claims fell within admiralty jurisdiction because the accident occurred on navigable waters and caused disruption of maritime commerce — except to the extent that the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) displaced maritime law.
The Deepwater Horizon rulings are certainly being appealed and the lawsuits will continue for many years. Jones Act legal proceedings tend to be complex and maritime law continues to evolve and change. During that time, plaintiffs must continue to pay their bills. Settlement financing may be a solution to these cash-flow issues, both for the plaintiffs and their attorneys. Call 1-800-565-5177 to speak with a Fee Acceleration expert or fill out the brief application to the right to become eligible for a free consultation with a legal funding specialist.