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Maritime Claims Now Include Punitive Damages


The Supreme Court has recently made a decision that may drastically affect maritime injury claims. Timothy Young, an attorney for the Young Firm of new Orleans, has recently written a blog article about this decision. Young was able to break this down in a clear and understandable way. A few of the main points he has written about this will be summarized here.

Supreme Court’s Maritime Decision

maritime injury claim is made for losses due to accidents that involve ships, barges, and tow boats deemed as unseaworthy. The Jones Act is the law that governs these claims. For more details on this, click here to read a previous article on maritime injury claims.

The recent decision made by the United States Supreme Court in regards to maritime law had to do with punitive damages. In addition to maintenance and care damages, injured seamen can now be awarded punitive damages.

This decision was made during the case of Edgar Townsend, a crewmember of the Motor Tug Thomas who injured his arm and shoulder on deck and filed a claim under the Jones Act. His employer denied the claim.

The Addition of Punitive Damages

Thanks to the employer neglecting to take responsibility, punitive damages are now added to what is covered under the Jones Act. This may seem odd yet it is interesting to think that because the employer denied the claim, Townsend filed a suit against his employer for willfull and arbitrary failure to pay maintenance and care.

It was this second suit that brought the Supreme Court decision to add punitive damages to be covered under the Jones Act. Employers ought to consider their conduct in how they treat their employees. As Young writes, “Now a Jones Act employer may think twice before wrongfully denying medical treatment and compensation to an injured seaman.”

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