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What is Alaska maritime injury law?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | Maritime Law

If you work in the maritime industry in Alaska, you may face various risks and hazards on the job. Whether you are a commercial fisherman, fish processor, deckhand, etc., you may suffer injuries due to accidents.

In such cases, you need to know how to seek compensation. This is where Alaska maritime injury law becomes vital.

The Jones Act: A key protection

The Jones Act is one of the most important laws because it gives seafarers and sailors the right to sue their employers for negligence.

The Jones Act covers any worker who spends at least 30% of their time on a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigable waters. Injured seafarers can recover damages, benefits are available regardless of fault and must be paid promptly by the employer.

The Doctrine of Unseaworthiness

Another legal point to understand is the Doctrine of Unseaworthiness. This is a principle of federal maritime law that holds vessel owners liable for injuries or deaths caused by defects or deficiencies in their vessels. A vessel is considered unseaworthy if it is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose or if it poses an unreasonable risk of harm to the crew.

An injured sailor can sue the vessel owner for unseaworthiness regardless of whether the owner was negligent or knew about the defect. The seafarer only needs to show that the unseaworthy condition was a substantial factor in causing the injury or death.

The Death on the High Seas Act

Besides the Jones Act and the doctrine of unseaworthiness, there are other federal maritime laws that may apply to injured mariners in Alaska.

The Death on the High Seas Act allows the surviving spouse, children, parents or dependent relatives of a sailor who died more than three nautical miles from shore to sue the responsible party for pecuniary damages, such as funeral expenses, loss of support and loss of inheritance.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

This law provides workers’ compensation benefits to maritime workers who are not covered by the Jones Act. This includes dockworkers, shipbuilders, ship repairers and harbor pilots. The benefits include medical care, disability payments, vocational rehabilitation and death benefits.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends the coverage of the LHWCA to workers who are employed on offshore oil rigs, platforms or other structures on the outer continental shelf of the United States.

The Suits in Admiralty Act

SIAA is a federal sovereign immunity waiver. It allows seafarers who are injured while working on vessels owned or operated by the federal government to sue for damages under the same terms as private employers.