Choosing The Best Maritime Injury Lawyer | Tips and Insight
A maritime injury attorney fights for the rights of Jones Act Seaman and visitors injured through an accident or negligence of the vessel owners or its operators. Federal maritime law and the Jones Act are extremely complicated, so choosing the best maritime accident attorney is important. Only a handful of law firms across the United States employ plaintiff lawyers who can proficiently handle these types of complex cases. Whether you're dealing with injuries aboard a container ship, semi-submersible oil platform, tug boat, or any other type of navigable vessel, a knowledgeable attorney is be your strongest ally. The challenge, however, lies in identifying the best maritime lawyer who can effectively represent your interests and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you find yourself in need of maritime legal assistance, don't worry – we has already done the legwork for you. In this blog, we will delve into the key factors to consider when searching for the best maritime attorney. We'll also provide valuable insights and tips to assist you in making an informed decision, ensuring that your maritime accident case is handled with professionalism and expertise.
Table of Contents
Tips for Finding the Best Maritime Injury Lawyer
Get a Referral
Getting a referral is an excellent way to find the best maritime accident attorney for several reasons. First, referrals can come from trusted sources colleagues or prior clients who have personally seen the attorneys successfully handle issues related to marine transportation, commence, and employee compensation laws such as the Jones Act. Issues that occur on navigable waters require an attorney well verses in admiralty law, and without a recommendation clients are often left to trust what an attorneys says of themselves on their personal websites, which is far less reliable.
Referrals all you to tap into a network of trusted individuals who have already vetted the attorney's skills and track record, saving you time and effort in researching potential candidates. Prior successful cases is a key indicator of an attorneys experience and should be the benchmark when vetting potential maritime lawyers. Maritime law is an area where many claim to have an expertise, but the number of attorneys that actually practice this area of law is very small.
Seeking a referral is also important in selecting an attorney who not only has the necessary legal expertise, but also possesses the interpersonal skills to guide you through the complexities of a maritime accident case. The best attorney-client relationship is built on trust and transparency, so you should ask for the referral of an attorney that is ethical, forthcoming, and provides clients great customer care.
Understand the Cost of Legal Services
Many injured seaman who have been injured are often hesitant to seek legal representation due to concerns about affordability. However, in the case of injured maritime workers, the potential benefits they can receive far outweigh the costs associated with hiring an attorney. Moreover, the majority of legal will offer to handle your case on a contingency base, meaning that expenses can be deferred until after the case has been resolved. If the victim's case is unsuccessful, they are only liable for the attorney's out-of-pocket expenses, without owing any legal fees. The attorney assumes responsibility for all initial expenses, including filing fees and court costs.
Find Out About a Maritime Lawyer’s Specific Experience
Maritime law encompasses a complex web federal guidelines governing various aspects of activities at sea, including shipping, fishing, and maritime commerce, so it's crucial to hire a lawyer with qualified experience. Whether your matter addresses personal injuries, cargo disputes, marine insurance claims, or collisions, you need legal counsel with a wealth of expertise to the table. The professional you choose should have a clear understanding of the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the Limitation of Liability Act, and Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act. Each of these acts are foundational to maritime law. An attorney needs a proficiency in navigating these bodies of law in order to towards adequately representing clients.
Ask How Past Case Victories
Don't hesitate to ask about the case outcome of cases similar to yours. If you're a deckhand injured on an undermanned tugboat along the intercostal waterway, then you should ask the attorney whether they have handled tug and tow incidents on similar waters. Your questions should even ask about prior clients with similar injuries, such as cases involving amputations, crush injuries, spinal surgery, traumatic brain surgery, or whatever ailment or condition you or your loved one are experiencing. A captain seeking legal representation after they experienced a heart attack aboard should ask a lawyer about prior situations they have successfully handled. By choosing a maritime lawyer with a proven track record and experience specific to your situation, your can ensure they receive the comprehensive legal representation necessary to protect their interests and rights on the high seas.
Ask The Lawyer, "What Percentage of Your Cases Are Referrals from Other Lawyers?"
Asking a lawyer what percentage of their cases are referrals from other lawyers is a crucial step in assessing their professional reputation and competence. The proportion of cases that come from referrals speaks volumes about the lawyer's standing within the legal community and their ability to earn the trust and respect of their peers. A high percentage of referral cases suggests that other lawyers believe in the attorney's skills, ethics, and track record, making them more likely to entrust their clients to this particular lawyer. It also indicates a history of successful outcomes and positive experiences, making the attorney more reliable and likely to handle a case with expertise.
Does this lawyer try lawsuits in court?
Most lay people believe that all maritime injury lawyers go to court and try cases regularly. Nothing could be further from the truth, as most cases actually settle after depositions are taken. So a significant percentage of lawyers who hold themselves out to be “maritime lawyers” or “trial lawyers” have little or no jury trial experience. Nothing is worse then believing your attorney is ready for trial, only to later discovery they are referring your case to another law firm before the case enters the courtroom.
Choosing a Maritime Lawyer Takes Time
Although time is of the essence, you don't need to hire the first maritime attorney you speak to. Being patient when hiring is crucial to ensure you find the right professional who can effectively handle your legal matters. Rushing the process can lead to unintended consequences and may result in selecting a lawyer who might not be the best fit for your needs.
Why You Need The Best Maritime Injury Lawyer
Determining liability after an offshore maritime accident injury involves a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident. An experienced maritime lawyer will send the company an evidence preservation letter protecting your ability to collect any and all photographs, videos, witness statements, accident reports, maintenance records, navigational charts, and any other relevant documentation. A skilled maritime law firm will also know how to properly determine the parties that may be potentially liable for the accident, which might include a ship's owner, operator, crew members, equipment manufacturers, maintenance contractors, or other entities associated with the vessel.
An admiralty expert understands the relevant international laws and regulations that apply to maritime accidents in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. Their investigation will also include the engagement of experts who can provide technical and professional insights related to the accident. Some of the common experts retained in marine related claims include may include naval architects, marine engineers, accident reconstruction specialists, or medical professionals specializing in maritime injuries. Together, the attorney and expert look to determine the cause of your damages, which can involve a company's inadequate training, equipment failure, improper maintenance, or violations of safety protocols.
The process of determining liability in maritime accidents can be complex, involving multiple parties, jurisdictional issues, and various legal considerations. The Defendant will also fight hard to prevent being help accountable for their negligent, unsafe, or intentional conduct. Each case is unique, so it's crucial to seek a maritime law specialist to assess your specific situation and ensure your rights are protected.
Assistance Negotiating a Settlement
Maritime-related cases often involve multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts when a plaintiff is successful, so the important of selecting the top maritime injury attorney to represent you, the importance of experience cannot be overstated. Offshore injuries can have severe physical, emotional, and financial consequences. A maritime lawyer will help you pursue full and fair compensation for your losses. They will assess the extent of your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term disability, to ensure you are adequately compensated for both current and future damages.
Protecting Yourself and Your Future
When you suffer an offshore injury, various parties such as employers, vessel owners, insurance companies, or other employees may become involved in the legal process. A maritime lawyer will protect your rights and ensure that your interests are safeguarded throughout the legal proceedings. They will advocate for your best interests, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
How to Interview a Maritime Lawyer
Ask Who Will Handle Various Aspects of Your Case
When searching for a maritime accident attorney, it's essential to ensure that the attorney you intend to hire will be your primary point of contact throughout your case. Take the initiative to inquire whether they delegate aspects of their cases to other attorneys within their firm. If their assign others to aid in furtherance of the case, you should ask for the attorneys names and position within the firm. Nothing is worse than thinking a partner will be managing your case, only to later discover the case has been assigned with a new associate. If possible, ask for their assurance that no part of your case will be transferred to another attorney.
Lawyers are bound by their ethical duty to provide truthful responses to these queries. However, for added certainty, consider requesting these terms in written form right from the beginning. Having a dedicated attorney makes a significant difference compared to having multiple attorneys handling it. When you've experienced a traumatic and damaging event, the last thing you want is a lawyer who lacks focus and fails to give your case the attention it deserves. The likelihood of encountering such a situation is higher when your case is spread among different lawyers. Therefore, having a single, dedicated attorney can ensure that your case receives the utmost attention and care it requires.
Ask Each Maritime Lawyer About Maintenance and Cure
If you're considering selecting a maritime attorney that you've interviewed, remember to ask about maintenance and cure. Maintenance and cure are benefits granted to a seafaring employee during their recovery from an injury. These are provided by the employer and are not contingent on who is at fault for the injury.
Maintenance refers to the support given to an injured seaman while they recuperate at home. This idea stems from the employer's responsibility to provide accommodation and meals while the seaman is aboard a ship. Maintenance may encompass expenses such as rent or mortgage, utility bills, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and food.
Cure entails covering the injured seaman's reasonable and necessary medical costs, along with the expenses for transportation related to essential medical treatment. It can be likened to the concept of workers' compensation on land. The injured seaman is not required to contribute anything towards their work-related medical treatment. Unlike the Jones Act, which considers negligence, maintenance and cure are not dependent on fault; they are benefits solely tied to the injury's occurrence during employment.
Set Clear Communications Expectations
Effectively setting expectations with the lawyer you hire to handle your personal injury lawsuit is crucial for a successful legal representation and outcome. Experienced maritime attorneys are handled many serious cases, and you want to be sure yours will be given the time, considerations, and creativity needed to effectuate the best outcome. Clear expectations benefit both you and your lawyer in the following ways:
Provides Clarity and Saves Time: Establishing clear expectations ensures that both you and your lawyer are on the same page, preventing misunderstandings and saving valuable time for all involved in the legal process.
Enhances Communication: By setting explicit expectations, you facilitate open and transparent communication with your lawyer. This fosters a productive working relationship and helps address any concerns or questions promptly.
Reference Point for Accountability: In the event that expectations are not met, having clearly stated goals provides a reference point for addressing the issues and finding solutions to improve the legal representation
Creates Performance Expectations: These expectations revolve around the results and outcomes your lawyer aims to achieve. This includes the quality of their work product, demonstrating relevant legal knowledge, and effectively applying that knowledge to your case.
By setting clear expectations with your lawyer, you establish a strong foundation for a successful admiralty lawsuit, promoting a positive working dynamic and increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Ask About Prior Maritime Cases
Don't make the mistake of hiring an attorney to handle a wench related injury if they focus a bulk on their practice of passenger cruise ship injuries. The investigation, case experts, discovery requests, legal parameters, and case expectations are very different. Admiralty law is vast, and the list of what can go wrong during sea navigation is seemingly endless. So ask the lawyers that you interview whether they have handled a claim involving the type of vessel you were manning and a situation similar to that which resulted in your accident.
To help, you should view each of the following types of vessels and accident situations are a specialty:
Cargo ship injuries
Container vessel injuries
Barge and tugboat Injuries
Dredging vessel Injuries
Dive boat accidents
Offshore drilling rig injuries
Fixed platform injuries
Crane related injuries
Line and cable injuries
Explosion and burn injuries
Poor ship maintenance
You should also discuss the injuries you suffered and ask how the attorney would aid in evidencing your pain and suffering. Securing proper compensation after an accident at sea is critical considering that most injuries are catastrophic and prevent seaman from returning to jobs connected to shipping, maritime trading, or naval academies. Hiring an economic to support you loss wage claim, or retaining a life care planner to demonstrate your future medical needs are two ways maritime attorneys help demonstrate their clients economic losses and impact.
Ask What Fee Percentage Each Lawyer Charges
Maritime injury lawyers handles the majority of injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, where the attorney only receives a portion of the compensation recovered for the victim. The exact percentage changes amongst attorneys and depending on your state, though generally the fee is 33 percent of the net recovery if the case is resolved without the formal filing of a lawsuit. The fee then increases to 40 percent once filing, and 45 percent if the claim reaches a jury verdict. The law firm covers all upfront expenses, including filing fees and court costs.
Legal expenses, such as hiring expert witnesses, investigators, photographers, document copying, and records requests, are separate from the attorney's fees and must be paid regardless of the case outcome. However, in a contingency fee arrangement, these costs can be deducted from the settlement instead of being paid directly by the victim.
Hire A Maritime Lawyer That Is Board Certified
The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) facilitates the board certification process for civil trial lawyers. Operating under the umbrella of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, the NBTA grants certification as a "civil trial attorney" to lawyers who possess significant courtroom experience and have prepared cases for trial. To achieve board certification as a civil trial attorney, applicants must demonstrate extensive experience in the courtroom and pass a comprehensive all-day examination conducted by the NBTA. This rigorous process ensures that certified attorneys possess the necessary skills and knowledge in civil trial advocacy. If your attorney is board certified in personal injury, this means they have been tested at trial and have that experience under their belt.