Navigating a maritime personal injury claim

Somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, a court recently dismissed a maritime personal injury claim.

I read court decisions because they’re sort of like Coast Guard navigation circulars.  It’s a way of refreshing your knowledge on what to do and what not to do when navigating a claim. I like to see what the court saw as the claim’s strengths and weaknesses.

This case concerned a crewmember’s back injury. Discovery (where you exchange information and take depositions) appears to have been completed and the court was ruling on a summary judgment motion. (That’s a motion where the argument is: “Okay, all parties agree on these facts, and when you apply the law to these undisputed facts the court should rule in my favor.” These motions are typically the last hurdle before getting to present your case to a jury.)

The court ruled in favor of the defendant and dismissed the claim. Why? There were multiple reasons, but one was because the theory of what the employer should have done wasn’t, in the court’s mind, supported. The lesson the court is telling us is that if you’re going to allege a defendant should have done something different, you need to support that allegation with evidence.

I don’t know anything about the background of the case, and the court may have disregarded evidence the claimant presented for any number of reasons. Maybe an appeal will follow. I’ll keep my eye out. 

Underway and making way.

 

About the author

John K. Fulweiler

John K. Fulweiler is a licensed mariner and experienced admiralty attorney. He represents individuals and companies throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and has recently taken command of his own maritime law firm. He enjoys navigating the choppy waters of the maritime law, but readily admits to missing life on the water. He can be reached at john@fulweilerlaw.com . His website is www.saltwaterlaw.com.

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