Seattle Attorneys Handling Maritime Cases Nationwide

Seattle Maritime Attorneys consists of a unique group of experienced attorneys engaged in the practice of maritime law in the United States. Two of our maritime lawyers, John Wheeler Merriam and Gordon Charles Webb, have handled an extensive number of maritime cases in Alaska, Washington, California and across the nation, and they likely have handled more cruise ship claims in the State of Washington than any law firm. Combining their experience of having worked on ships with their courtroom knowledge gives them the practical and professional skills that it takes to successfully handle the unique complexities involved in maritime claims.

John Merriam has been selected and is recognized as a Super Lawyer who has attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Gordon Webb has been selected and is recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates as one of the top 100 litigation lawyers in the State of Washington.

The maritime lawyers at Seattle Maritime Attorneys provide skilled representation on behalf of nearly anyone who has been injured while on a vessel — cruise ship passengers, pleasure boaters, tug and barge workers, ferry workers, oil rig workers, seafood processors, commercial fishermen, merchant seamen, sailors working with the Military Sea-Lift Command, and many others. Seattle Maritime Attorneys regularly handle Jones Act and maritime injury cases originating from all over the globe and from all parts of the North American continent, including the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Whoever you are and however and wherever you were injured, our attorneys will work closely with you to identify your unique needs and to aggressively pursue the compensation that you are entitled to receive.

Cruise Ship Injuries

When you take a cruise, you do not expect to come home with injuries, but cruise ship injuries may occur in a variety of circumstances, including slip and falls on slippery decks and injuries caused by negligent crew. If you were injured as a passenger on a cruise ship, your claim will fall under maritime law, rather than state personal injury law. Under general maritime law, ship personnel must use reasonable care under the circumstances, and Seattle Maritime Attorneys can help you sue for damages if the ship personnel were negligent. It is necessary to show that your injury arose from a dangerous condition, and the defendant knew or should have known about the condition but did not correct the condition. Moreover, a ship can be held strictly liable if your injuries caused by a crewmember assault. There may be other rules that apply if you are injured on a shore excursion or injured by the ship’s doctor.

State Ferry Injuries

Seattle Maritime Attorneys represent ferry workers and passengers injured on Alaska and Washington State Ferrys. Ferry workers can suffer serious injuries, as well as physical complications, from carrying out their daily work. Ferry worker injury cases are covered under the Jones Act and federal maritime law. Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can sue an employer for negligence and recover damages if they can prove that the crew, owner, or captain of the ferry was negligent, and their negligence caused the injury. The Jones Act entitles an injured ferry worker to compensation for medical bills, lost income, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. If you are a passenger on a Washington State Ferry, you are entitled to reasonable care from ferry employees, that may entitle you to damages if you are injured.

Commercial Fishing Injuries

Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Crabbing is especially dangerous. According to one study, workers who harvested crabs and other shellfish accounted for 226 of the 478 deaths (47%) in commercial fishing between the years 1992 and 2008. Seattle Maritime Attorneys handle all types of accident and illness cases, including those arising out of assaults, back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, amputation, death, falls, head injuries, man overboard, dangerous equipment, and other accidents. As a seaman who is injured in a commercial fishing accident, you are entitled to certain remedies, such as maintenance, cure, and unearned wages. If your injuries were caused by the boat’s unsafe condition, you also can make a claim for pain and suffering and future lost wages. This claim would allow you to go beyond the remedies of maintenance, cure, and unearned wages.

Tugboat and Barge Injuries

Tugboat and barge workers are entitled to work in a safe place, not work excessive hours, and receive a reasonable rate of maintenance if they are injured, among other things. Many tugboat and barge workers do not realize that if they are injured, they are entitled to damages under the Jones Act and maintenance and cure, like other seamen. When a safe place to work is not provided, a tugboat or barge worker may be entitled to compensation that exceeds what is specified in their union contract. Working too many hours or with heavy equipment or repetitive motions can contribute to tugboat injuries. If you were not safeguarded against those conditions, your employer should be held accountable.

Pleasure Boat and Yacht Accidents

People throughout the Northwest enjoy spending time along the Pacific Coastline and on Puget Sound. Unfortunately, passengers on pleasure boats and yachts can suffer catastrophic injuries while enjoying the water. If you have been injured on a pleasure boat or yacht, Seattle Maritime Attorneys can help you. Your purpose for being on the boat will determine the procedure for pursuing compensation. If you were on the yacht as a crewmember, you may be a seaman under the Jones Act. If you were a passenger on a pleasure boat, your case will unfold in the same manner as that of a cruise ship passenger.

Merchant Seamen Injuries

If your ability to make a living is endangered by a work accident, you should not need to cover the financial losses on your own. Merchant seamen who are injured on the job may be able to recover compensation under the Jones Act. Their union contract may specify a rate of maintenance, but under some circumstances, it is possible to get more than that, along with additional compensation and benefits. Seamen who are injured are entitled to maintenance and cure. Maintenance consists of a daily living stipend that makes up for the loss of free room and meals that you would have received on board, had you not been injured. Cure requires a vessel owner to pay your medical bills until you achieve maximum recovery or improve as much as possible. Part of maintenance and cure involves recovering unearned wages. You can obtain the wages that you would have earned under your contract if you become unable to work because of your injuries.

Maritime Wage Claims

Maritime employers often fail to pay commercial fishermen and other seamen their fair share of wages. When you work hard on a ship to make a living, you deserve to be paid fairly. From the time that the catch is sold, you may have six months to file your wage claim. If the attorneys at Seattle Maritime Attorneys successfully establish your wage claim, you may be able to obtain the wages that were wrongfully withheld, as well as penalties. The rules that apply to your wage claim depend on which class of seaman you are. When a shipper goes bankrupt or insolvent, it may be necessary to enforce a lien against a vessel or use other means to obtain the wages. The Attorneys at Seattle Maritime Attorneys are most experienced in representing fisherman in claims for unpaid wages. 

Wrongful Death

When someone dies at sea, their family may be shocked, confused, and devastated. Unfortunately, trying to cope with the grief also leaves the decedent’s loved ones vulnerable to insurers and employers that may try to pay as little money as they can and take advantage of that vulnerability. The Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act will govern claims of wrongful death at sea. The Death on the High Seas Act applies if someone’s death is caused by neglect, a wrongful act, or default occurring on the high seas more than three nautical miles from the shore of the United States. Generally, the accident site will govern whether this law applies. Under this law, a decedent’s child, spouse, dependent relative, or parent can recover compensation for pecuniary losses that they have sustained.

FTCA Claims

The doctrine of sovereign immunity prevents citizens from suing the state, unless the state has waived its immunity. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a federal law that serves as a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. It allows a private person to sue the United States for most torts perpetrated by people acting on behalf of the U.S. FTCA claims can involve injuries aboard a vessel, or they can involve incidents of medical malpractice. These claims are filed in federal court. We handle FTCA claims for injured sailors, veterans, and families based on injuries caused by the negligence of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and Clinics. We represent people in all branches of the military, including the Military Sea-Lift Command.

Retain a Seasoned Seattle Maritime Attorney

You have been through enough and should not need to spend any more time dealing with difficult legal problems, insurance companies, or employers. Let us take care of these troubles for you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation with a highly skilled and experienced maritime lawyer. Our nationwide toll-free number is 877.800.1007. Our local numbers are 425.454.3800 (Bellevue) and 206.729.5252 (Seattle). With more than 65 years of combined experience, we represent clients throughout the United States, Washington State, and all of its counties, including King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Kittitas, and Pacific Counties. Call us or contact us through our online form to set up a consultation.

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Client Reviews
John has helped me get my pay. He REALLY went up to bat for me, I can't recommend him highly enough. Jamie
There are very few people I trust in this world but John Merriam is at the top of my list he not only is a man of outstanding character and morals as well as honest but he truly cares about his clients well being and situation… Matthew
I lost most of my vision from an accident at sea. Gordon handled my case with motivation and haste that I could imagine would have been the way he would have handled it if it had been him who was injured. I was ver impressed by how much he cared and especially his work ethic. Andrew
Gordon helped me and family get through a very hard time. I was severely injured, and Gordon was able to settle my case for more than i was hoping for. If anything else happens he will be the first person I call. Kerrey
I very much appreciated the sense of urgency that Gordon Webb demonstrated as he handled my case. Emails and phone calls were returned almost instantly, questions were answered and solutions were offered. Gordon's firm came highly recommended and I am very pleased that I made the right choice to hire him. Maureen
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