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Brad Barrios and David Hayes obtained an affirmance from the Fifth District Court of Appeal

March 2024: Brad Barrios and David Hayes obtained an affirmance from the Fifth District Court of Appeal of a trial court’s order denying three defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. TCB filed the case for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of a nondisclosure agreement on behalf of a Florida-based client against three Pennsylvania-based defendants. TCB defeated personal jurisdiction arguments at the trial and appellate courts.

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Brad Barrios was a panelist on the Entertainment Law Pane

March 2024: Brad Barrios was a panelist on the Entertainment Law Panel at the Gasparilla International Film Festival moderated by University of Tampa Film Professor Aaron Walker.

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Ken Turkel and Brad Barrios lectured on current trends in intellectual property and entertainment law

March 2024: Ken Turkel and Brad Barrios lectured on current trends in intellectual property and entertainment law at Tulane University Law School for the Tulane Technology & Intellectual Property Society. Ken and Brad also discussed several of TCB’s recent cases in the entertainment industry in an interactive forum with law students.

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Ken Turkel, Tony Cuva, and Brad Barrios were recognized as Top Lawyers in their respective practice areas

January 2024: Ken Turkel, Tony Cuva, and Brad Barrios were recognized as Top Lawyers in their respective practice areas by Tampa Magazines. Voted for by their peers, Ken was recognized in First Amendment Litigation, First Amendment Law, and Media Law Mediation; Tony was recognized in Admiralty & Maritime Law; and Brad was recognized in Intellectual Property Litigation.

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The Best Lawyers in America

January 2024: The Best Lawyers in America ® TCB earned a Tier 1 Ranking for Best Law Firms in Commercial Litigation and a Tier 2 Ranking for Best Law Firms in Admiralty & Maritime Law. In addition, Ken Turkel, Brad Barrios, and Shane Vogt were recognized as Best Lawyers in Commercial Litigation, while Tony Cuva was recognized as a Best Lawyer in Admiralty & Maritime Law.

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Admiralty and Maritime

Important Factors in Proving a Maritime Injury Claim

Maritime injury claims can encompass a wide array of incidents, including but not limited to, injuries sustained by crew members, accidents involving recreational boaters, and casualties related to commercial shipping operations. Given the nature of these claims, engaging with a maritime lawyer in Florida who possesses a comprehensive understanding of this legal domain is paramount.

4 Critical Elements of a Maritime Injury Claim

As a shipowner, understanding the complexities of maritime injury law is crucial for protecting your business interests and ensuring the safety of your crew. Injuries on vessels can lead to costly claims, highlighting the need for a proactive approach and careful attention to potential liabilities.

Element 1: Seaman Status and the Jones Act

The Jones Act offers broad rights to injured maritime workers classified as “seamen.” For shipowners, this definition is critical because it significantly impacts potential liabilities. Courts tend to interpret seaman status liberally, considering factors like job duties and connection to the vessel’s function.

Understanding these factors – which can encompass a wide range of crew members beyond just sailors – is vital. By structuring operations to minimize the number of workers who qualify as seamen under the Jones Act, shipowners can potentially reduce their exposure to lawsuits under this law.

Element 2: Burden of Proving Lack of Negligence

Maritime law often places the burden of proof on shipowners to demonstrate they were not negligent in cases of crew member injuries. This can be particularly challenging, especially when accidents involve complex or disputed circumstances.

To counter a claim effectively, shipowners need comprehensive documentation showcasing their commitment to safe operations. This includes detailed records of safety protocols, proper maintenance schedules for vessels and equipment, and crew training programs. Maintaining such documentation allows shipowners to demonstrate they took reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries.

Element 3: The Need for Robust Evidence

Successful defense against maritime injury claims hinges on meticulous record-keeping. In the aftermath of an incident, detailed reports from the captain and crew, witness statements from those who were present, and comprehensive maintenance logs become crucial evidence. Shipowners must establish clear procedures for gathering and preserving such documentation.

This might involve designating a responsible party to collect witness statements immediately after an incident and implementing a system for safekeeping accident reports and maintenance logs. By having robust evidence readily available, shipowners can effectively counter claims and potentially mitigate liability.

Element 4: Statutes of Limitations and Timely Action

Adherence to deadlines is paramount in maritime law. Shipowners must be acutely aware of the statutes of limitations applicable to maritime injury claims. These deadlines dictate the timeframe within which a claim must be filed to be considered valid. Failure to respond promptly to a claim can significantly weaken a shipowner’s legal position. It’s essential to have a system in place to ensure prompt notification of any potential claims and swift legal action to protect the shipowner’s interests.

Top 5 Proactive Measures for Shipowners

To mitigate their exposure to maritime injury claims, shipowners should prioritize:

Top 5: Safety Protocols

Implement comprehensive safety guidelines tailored to your specific operations, provide regular training to all crew members, and rigorously enforce safety protocols. Demonstrate a proactive commitment to a safe workplace to strengthen your position should a claim arise.

Top 4: Maintenance and Upkeep

Establish preventive maintenance schedules for vessels and equipment, meticulously document all inspections and repairs, and ensure everything is kept in seaworthy condition. This shows due diligence in preventing accidents caused by equipment failure.

Top 3: Training and Supervision

Provide thorough onboarding training for new crew members, regular refresher courses for all staff, and specialized training for those operating complex machinery. Effective supervision helps ensure safety protocols are followed and potential hazards are addressed promptly.

Top 2: Insurance Coverage

Work with a knowledgeable insurance broker to secure comprehensive maritime insurance, including appropriate coverage for potential claims, legal costs, and business losses. Proper insurance is a crucial safety net for your operations.

Top 1: Experienced Legal Counsel

Engage a maritime law firm for ongoing advice on compliance and risk management. Should a claim arise, they become your dedicated advocates, leveraging their knowledge to protect your interests.

Choosing the Right Maritime Lawyer

Facing a maritime injury claim can be complex and costly for shipowners. Engaging with experienced maritime lawyers in Florida is vital for safeguarding your interests and ensuring a robust defense. At Turkel Cuva Barrios, our maritime attorneys focus in providing comprehensive legal counsel for shipowners. We understand the unique challenges you face and are equipped to handle maritime injury cases with strategic guidance.

Our maritime lawyers have in-depth knowledge of maritime law, ensuring we can proactively address issues like seaman status, anticipate negligence arguments, and build a strong defense strategy based on your documentation and procedures. If you face a maritime injury claim, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation. We’re here to help you navigate these complex legal matters and protect your business interests.

Let us safeguard your interests. Contact the experienced maritime lawyers at Turkel Cuva Barrios for strategic counsel and effective representation.

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Admiralty and Maritime

Gathering Evidence to Prove a Maritime Injury Claim

Maritime workers typically aren’t covered by traditional workers’ compensation. Instead, maritime injury law dictates the rights and avenues to seek compensation based on the circumstances. Two of the most prominent laws are:

The Jones Act

The Jones Act, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is foundational to maritime injury law in the United States. It acknowledges the perilous conditions under which seamen operate and provides them with the ability to seek damages from their employers in the event of injury. Crucially, the Act allows injured seamen to sue their employers for negligence, a provision not typically found in standard workers’ compensation claims.

Negligence under the Jones Act can encompass a wide range of conditions, from unsafe working environments and inadequate training to faulty equipment and insufficient safety protocols. For a claim to be successful, the injured party must demonstrate that the employer’s negligence played a part, however small, in their injury. This broad interpretation of negligence means that the threshold for proving an employer’s fault is lower under the Jones Act than in common personal injury law.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

While the Jones Act specifically protects seamen, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) extends similar protections to a broader range of maritime workers. This includes individuals involved in maritime work on navigable waters or in adjoining areas such as docks, piers, terminals, and shipyards. The LHWCA provides for compensation and medical care for workers injured on the job and benefits to survivors in the case of work-related death.

Unlike the Jones Act, which requires proof of negligence, the LHWCA operates on a no-fault basis. This means that eligible workers can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injuries. The Act covers a variety of benefits, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and compensation for lost wages due to temporary or permanent disability.

One of the notable aspects of the LHWCA is its provision for vocational rehabilitation services for injured workers. This acknowledges the potential need for retraining or education to enable workers to return to gainful employment, either within the maritime industry or in a new field.

Types of Evidence in Maritime Injury Claims

Evidence is the cornerstone of any legal claim, but it holds particular weight in maritime injury cases. Key types of evidence include:

Accident Reports

Accident reports are typically generated immediately following the incident and contain vital details such as the date, time, and location of the accident, a description of what occurred, the cause of the incident, and the extent of the injuries sustained. An official accident report can serve as a foundational piece of evidence, providing a contemporaneous record of the event. It is crucial that these reports are accurate and comprehensive, as they offer an initial overview of the incident that can be pivotal in establishing the facts of the case.

Witness Statements

The accounts of coworkers or other witnesses who observed the accident unfold are invaluable in corroborating the injured party’s narrative of events. Witness statements can provide additional perspectives and details that may not be immediately apparent in the accident report. They can also help to establish the conditions leading up to the incident, potentially highlighting negligence or unsafe conditions that contributed to the injury. The credibility and detail of witness testimony can significantly influence the strength of a claim.

Medical Records

Medical records offer a detailed account of the injuries sustained, the treatment administered, and the prognosis for recovery. To link these records to the maritime accident, it is necessary to demonstrate that the injuries documented are a direct result of the incident in question. Detailed medical records not only substantiate the claim of injury but also help in quantifying damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and potential future medical needs.

Records of Lost Wages

For many maritime workers, an injury can result in significant time away from work, leading to lost wages and, in some cases, diminished future earning capacity. Documentation of lost wages is essential for recovering these economic damages. Pay stubs, employment contracts, and letters from employers can all serve as evidence to support claims for lost income. This type of evidence ensures that injured workers are compensated for immediate losses and also for any long-term financial impacts of injuries.

Maintenance and Inspection Records

In cases where an injury is attributed to faulty equipment or unsafe conditions on a vessel, maintenance and inspection records become key pieces of evidence. These records can reveal whether the equipment involved in the incident was properly maintained and inspected according to industry standards and regulations. A lack of proper maintenance or inspection records can suggest negligence on the part of the employer or vessel owner, thereby strengthening the injured party’s claim.

Turkel Cuva Barrios: Your Advocates at Sea

Maritime incidents pose complex legal risks for shipowners. TCB Law provides experienced guidance and robust defense in the face of liability claims. Our in-depth understanding of maritime law ensures compliance and protects your interests. Our maritime attorneys will handle the legal complexities, allowing you to focus on your operations. Contact us today for a consultation.