Availability of Seaman’s Rights to Marine Unit Personnel

Police officers assigned to the Marine Unit are entitled to NYS Workers Compensation benefits as are all employees of Police Departments in Suffolk County. However those who are assigned to a vessel may elect to pursue a civil lawsuit under maritime law. The US Supreme Court in McDermott International v. Wilander 498 U.S. 337 (1991) defined a “seaman” as a worker who has an employment related connection to a vessel in navigation and who also contributes to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission. This broad definition means that “seaman status” is not limited to sailors on the high seas who crew commercial cargo vessels, but is sufficiently broad to include harbor workers of various types working on vessels of various descriptions, including employees assigned to vessels of a Police Marine Unit.

A person who qualifies for seaman status is afforded three important rights:
1) The right to sue the Municipality under a Federal Statute known as the “Jones Act” for all injuries caused by negligence
2) The right to sue the Municipality for all injuries caused by the “Seaworthiness” of the vessel
3) The right to sue for “Maintenance and Cure”

Monetary damages recovered under the “Jones Act” and Seaworthiness include economic losses consisting of past and future loss of wages, fringe and pension losses, and past and future pain and suffering. Compensation afforded under Seaman’s Rights typically exceeds those provided under Workers Compensation. To determine which route is most beneficial to you and to determine if you qualify for seaman’s status, a consultation with a “Proctor in Admiralty” – which is an attorney who specializes in Admiralty and Maritime Law, is highly recommended.

A decision to accept traditional Worker’s Compensation Benefits can be considered an election of remedies. If an Officer is injured at work, and the assignment was in any way related to the activities of a Marine Bureau Vessel all options should be explored. Find out what your options are immediately. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.