We get the difficult choices that you face after an accident on the water. Especially if you are seriously injured and the accident was not your fault. Our goal is to help you secure the best possible settlement for your case.
Norfolk Maritime Lawyer Richard Serpe
Norfolk Maritime Lawyer Richard Serpe has successfully prosecuted cases under the Jones Act, bringing fair and just compensation to those who were injured or killed while performing their duties.
Mr. Serpe obtained a Master of Laws in Admiralty after law school and has obtained the highest ranking (Proctor) from the Maritime Law Association of the United States.
With more than 34 years of experience, Attorney Richard Serpe has the knowledge and skill to fight for what you are owed. Contact us for a free consultation 757-233-0009. You won’t owe us any legal fees unless we win your case.
Awards & Recognition
- Norfolk Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers (2020)
- Master of Laws in Maritime: After law school, Richard Serpe obtained a Master of Laws in Admiralty
- Proctor of Admiralty: highest ranking from the Maritime Law Association of the United States
- Rated 10/10 – “Superb” by Avvo.com
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America ® (2005 – Present)
- AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell law directory, which is the highest given
- a “Super Lawyer” – among the top 5% of lawyers in Virginia (2006 – Present)
- Lack of proper safety training
- Lack of proper occupational training – crew member not properly trained for their job
- Poorly maintained, broken, or faulty equipment or machinery
- The employer fails to provide proper equipment for a crew member’s job/task
- Unseaworthy Vessel – when the vessel is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose
- Failure to hire a competent crew, negligent co-workers
- Collision with another vessel
Barge Accidents, Tugboat Accidents, Commercial Fishing Accidents, Dredging Accidents, Collision Accidents, Amputations, Electrocution Injuries, Drowning and Falling Overboard, Cruise Ship Accidents, Crane and Cargo Accidents, and Recreational Boating Accidents.
The Jones Act vs. Workers’ Compensation
Many are surprised to learn that maritime employees are not covered by normal workers’ compensation insurance. Instead, under The Jones Act, seamen can file personal injury claims. If maritime workers can prove that their employer did not provide a safe environment in which to work, they can recover the costs associated with their injury.
What is covered under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is an important federal maritime law. This law protects workers who are injured or become ill at sea by allowing them to recover compensation from their employer.
- To qualify for such protections, a maritime worker must fall under the Jones Act definition of a “seaman”. U.S. courts have generally interpreted “seamen” to mean anyone performing work related to a vessel’s purpose operating in navigable waters. Navigable waters meaning waters capable of being used for commerce.
- The employee must also spend a “significant” amount of their time on the vessel. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by taking into account the circumstances of employment. However, this often means at least 30% of their time.
Maintenance and Cure Compensation
The idea is that a healthy seaman lives and works on the ship so, if he is injured and can no longer enjoy the benefits of that home, he is entitled to room and board (maintenance) and medical care to cure him of the injury (cure).
Seamen who are injured while at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers. It does not matter if the illness or injury is work-related, as long as it occurs or manifests itself while the seaman is “in service to the vessel” and was not caused by the seaman’s own willful conduct.
These amounts are paid until the seaman is either fit to return to work or until he has reached a point where additional medical care will not help him. Sometimes a seaman might be fit enough to return to work, so he will lose his right to maintenance, but additional medical care could help, so he would be entitled to additional cure.
Maintenance should include the cost of maintaining the seaman’s home, including rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance, and food. Historically, employers got used to paying amounts much lower than this, around 8 to 12 dollars per day. If the employer tries to pay a low amount like this, an experienced maritime lawyer will seek to show the court your ACTUAL cost of maintenance and seek a higher award.
Occasionally, an employer will try to force a seaman too use private medical insurance to pay the bills. This is not generally a good idea for the seaman because often the “cure” obligation is more broad than that provided by insurance. Cure should cover all related medical care, and also can include transportation expenses to see the doctors.