Maritime Law Expert Discusses Implications of Worker Injury in Foreign Waters

Joseph O'Neill

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— Updated on April 9, 2018

Maritime Expert WitnessThis admiralty case involves a plaintiff who was injured while working for an American company while at sea off the coast of Africa. At the time of the incident in question, the man was tasked with inspecting the attachments between stacks of shipping containers. In order to access the joints, the man was required to scale the containers. At some point, he lost his footing and fell to the deck, suffering significant injuries. The injured plaintiff had made a claim under the Jones Act, but language in his contract dictated that he is only entitled to benefits under maritime law of the nearest country.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1.) Are you familiar with claims under the Jones Act as well as relevant maritime law?

Expert Witness Response E-033484

I have a great deal of experience with Jones Act claims and international maritime law. While I don’t profess to be an expert in the intricacies of the law of the specific country implicated in this case, I have read multiple expert witness opinions (recently, in fact) about maritime law in similar cases to the one in question. Perhaps more importantly, there is a sizable body of law about whether a foreign choice of law clause of the kind you mention is effective to preclude a seafarer from relying on Jones Act remedies, if they would otherwise be available. Depending on the circumstances, your client may well be able to rely on the Jones Act, notwithstanding the choice of law clause. I’ve actually appeared as an an expert in relevant courts as an expert in US international maritime law, so this is something I feel comfortable discussing.

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