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Third Party Maritime Negligence

Sailboat sinking into the water
Getting an attorney involved early is vital to protect key evidence and help you receive maximum compensation.

North Carolina Third Party Maritime Negligence Lawyers

The U.S. Coast Guard reports more than 4,000 recreational boating accidents occurred in 2022, resulting in over 2,200 injuries and 636 deaths. These statistics do not even factor in the number of workers who suffer an injury while performing maritime jobs. Unfortunately, injuries occurring in this industry happen due to negligence more often than we would like to think.

When you are out at sea and suffer injury due to a variety of factors, you may not expect such a complex legal fight to recuperate damages. To make matters more challenging for you as you try to recover from your injury sustained at sea, you will need to know what type of claim you are making.

The North Carolina maritime attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law have experience with Jones Act claims as well as third-party liability claims. Our personal injury attorneys will examine your case and see which claim you need to file, negotiate on your behalf, and, if necessary, we will litigate your personal injury lawsuit. To obtain a free consultation, call our law firm today at (877) 622-8100.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a failure to act with responsible, ethical, and reasonable care. In maritime law, this also applies similarly to other types of personal injury cases. Negligence could come in a variety of different ways, such as unsafe work conditions or a lack of maintenance. The following are examples of third parties that can be held responsible for their actions.

  • Manufacturer, distributor, or seller of defective products
  • Vessel’s owner (even if employer and owner are the same, you can file a claim against the party as an owner)
  • Contractors or non-employers on the worksite
  • Toxic substances
  • Ship loaders
  • Party selling tickets
  • Company chartering an excursion
  • Ship’s physician

This is not a comprehensive list. Additionally, negligent third parties in maritime accidents can vary, depending upon whether the accident or injury occurred on a recreational vessel or in a commercial setting. Different rules may also apply. Injured parties should always speak with an experienced North Carolina maritime accident lawyer who can evaluate the case, determine the third party at fault for injuries, and provide legal advice.

Is North Carolina a Contributory Negligence State?

The State of North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. In layman’s terms, North Carolina law stipulates if you are found to bear even a small percentage at fault (even a mere 1%) for an accident or injury, you will be unable to recover any damages to help pay for your medical bills and other losses.

How is Negligence Proven in a Maritime Claim in North Carolina?

Many injuries suffered in maritime accidents are rooted in negligence. In a North Carolina maritime claim, you must be able to prove the following four elements.

1. Establish Responsible Care of Duty

The first step is to establish a duty of care as stipulated under 46 U.S. Code § 30102. This essentially means vessel owners and operators owe their passengers a high duty of care and are responsible for doing everything they can to avoid causing people injury. You must be able to demonstrate this.

2. Breach of This Duty

Next, you must prove how the defendant did not uphold their duty of care. This breach includes failing to act in a reasonable manner, taking poor action, or even taking inaction.

3. There was Causation

This element involves the injured workers or others proving the defendant’s lack of reasonable care or negligent behavior directly caused their injuries. As the person suffering injury, the burden of proof falls on you to demonstrate why your injury would not have occurred if not due to the liable party breaching their duty of care.

4. You Sustained Damage

The last element to prove is the damages you suffered from the accident. Damages can be personal injuries, high medical expenses, funeral costs for a loved one, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional anguish, and numerous other potential damages you may suffer due to the injury or wrongful death.

When proving a maritime third-party negligence personal injury claim, you will most likely run into some challenges. You will come up against deadlines, you may not be able to work on your own case due to injuries, or your employer may lack the cooperation necessary for your claim.

What is the Jones Act?

harbor workers looking out at the water

The Jones Act, another name for the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a law protecting seamen, including all workers who are serving on vessels navigating waters, contributing to its function or mission. Examples of seamen include captains, shipmates, deckhands, engineers, cooks, and other employees.

It is a U.S. federal law written to regulate maritime commerce within domestic waters. This act places protections for seamen and provides them with benefits should their employer breach their duty, leading to injury or wrongful death. Any cargo traveling by vessel between U.S. ports must be on U.S.-owned ships (75% majority), be built in the U.S., and the majority of the crew must be U.S. citizens.

This federal law works differently than regular workers’ compensation claims (applied to land injuries). Workers’ compensation only covers medical costs and a portion of any lost wages. Alternatively, the Jones Act permits injured seamen who are eligible to pursue justice for their damages by filing an accident case in civil courts.

Unlike workers’ compensation insurance policies, the Jones Act empowers claimants to potentially receive full compensation for damages like other types of personal injury cases, including lost wages, medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and diminished future earning capacity, along with pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
It is in your best interest to speak to an experienced North Carolina maritime personal injury lawyer before pursuing a claim with any insurance carrier. You might be eligible to file under the Jones Act, which has a lower threshold for proving negligence than many other types of claims.

The Difference Between Third-Party and the Jones Act

In the event a third party is responsible for your injury, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the negligent individual or entity. This claim would be independent of a claim under the Jones Act. It is important to understand your right to recover any damages will be different depending upon which type of case you pursue.

A third-party liability claim follows different guidelines than those of a Jones Act claim, and the process can be complex. In many cases, third-party liability cases result from recreational boating, whereas the Jones Act is strictly for workers. However, a seaman can sometimes pursue both claims. Sitting down to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable maritime accident attorney serving North Carolina seamen is ideal to help determine the type of claim you should pursue.

Statute of Limitations for Third-Party Negligence Claims in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina imposes a three-year statute of limitations on most injury cases. The “clock” starts ticking on the date the accident or injury occurred. While three years is generally the amount of time you have to file a third-party negligence claim, there are a few exceptions. It is important to speak with a maritime attorney as soon as possible because while three years sounds like a long period of time, it elapses quickly. Your lawyer will also determine if your case qualifies for an extension of time to file.

What Damages Can Be Recovered Under a Third-Party Maritime Claim?

Filing a third-party maritime negligence case in North Carolina will follow similarly to other types of personal injury cases, such as car accidents or slip-and-falls. Your injuries and damages are likely brought on by the negligence of human error or maintenance. If you are a seaman or longshore worker suffering injury, you can file a third-party maritime claim.

Your location will be a deciding factor in your ability to receive damages from the tortfeasor. In North Carolina, you may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and medical expenses, along with pain and suffering.

Why Hire a Maritime Negligence Attorney?

lawyer shaking hands with a client

Many personal injury attorneys will profess their ability to successfully navigate maritime accidents. Few actually have the right experience to do so. Boating accidents require knowledgeable maritime attorneys who know how to navigate the complexities and intricacies of these accidents. The way a lawyer handles personal injury cases on land, such as a motor vehicle or medical malpractice case, is very different than how a boating accident needs handling. Our law firm has deep experience in this area and is acutely aware of North Carolina maritime laws.

What Our Clients Have to Say

Montagna Maritime Law possesses the skill and knowledge necessary to handle third-party maritime negligence cases successfully. We will handle negotiations with insurance carriers and, if needed, take your case to court. Our clients appreciate our attention to detail and how we put their needs as a priority.

“If you’re looking for someone who’s professional, attentive, serious, caring, and negotiable than Mr. Anthony Montagna is who you need. He understood his assignment and delivered well especially being with what I was looking at in my case. I want to again thank Mr. Montagna and Kelly for being there for me. Will definitely be spreading his name around.” – Tiara S.

Hold the Third Party Accountable For Their Maritime Negligence

Employers are obligated to provide safe work environments. Manufacturers must design and produce safe products that are free of defects. Other third parties have obligations to follow all safety regulations and standards whether you’re working on a barge or recreationally riding jet skis.

Commercial businesses have attorneys and insurance companies on their side, but Montagna Maritime Law will fight strictly for you. If you or a family member suffer a serious injury at the hands of a third party, contact the compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers at Montagna Maritime Law.

Our law firm holds a high level of experience in this area of law and will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To receive a free case evaluation, call Montagna Maritime Law at (877) 622-8100 or fill out our online contact form, and a personal representative from our law firm will get right back to you.

Award-Winning Maritime Law Firm

  • American Institute of Personal injury attorneys 10 best law firm award
  • NAOPIA Top 10 Attorney 2022 award
  • American Association of Attorney advocates Top 10 Award
  • The National Trial Lawyer Top 100
  • top 10 personal injury attorney award from Attorney and practice magazines
  • 10 best attorneys client satisfaction
  • Lawyers of distinction 2022