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Maersk Case Awards Damages For Heart Condition To Retired Ship's Officer

Maritime workers face a host of dangers that can lead to injuries. From falls while climbing gangways and ladders to hazards due to shifting cargo, seamen can suffer severe injuries that make them eligible for maintenance and cure benefits. A recent Jones Act maritime injury case in Florida resulted in a significant judgment for a chief mate who worked for Maersk.

In Skye v. Maersk Line, Ltd. Corp., the plaintiff argued that Maersk's repeated flagrant violations of U.S. statutes, including excessive duty time caused by reduced manning of vessels, caused him to retire early due to resulting damage to his heart from stress and hypertension. The man worked aboard the vessel Maersk Sealand Pride, and he also maintained that the ship was unsafe and not fit for its purposes.

The chief mate alleged that Maersk imposed excessive duties on him. Multiple watches and dozens of other duties left him with less than six hours of sleep a day. He also contended that Maersk failed to properly train and supervise crew members and failed to provide adequate machinery and equipment.

Due to his heart condition and early retirement, a Federal District Court in Miami approved a significant award of damages in a judgment that legal commentators call unprecedented. The plaintiff's maritime injury attorney told Lloyd's List that the case has implications for other crew members who suffer health problems due to being overworked on ships.

Shipping companies and other maritime employers have a clear obligation to maintain safe working conditions. Recognition that bad health is an actionable result of an unsafe work environment and employer negligence is an important step toward maritime justice.

Jones Act Negligence Claims and Other Legal Remedies for Injured Seamen

Seamen who serve aboard commercial fishing vessels, tugs and barges, state ferries, cargo ships and tankers all have rights to compensation when they are injured or fall ill at sea. Employers must provide a living allowance and pay medical expenses until the employee reaches a legal threshold known as maximum cure. Longshoremen, crane operators and other harbor workers also have powerful rights under U.S. maritime law.

A maritime work injury attorney can explain those rights to potential clients who are concerned about receiving the compensation they need and deserve. As new legal developments emerge, a lawyer's familiarity with the latest case law and statutes can help seamen understand the full extent of the obligations they are owed.