The formal definition of ship salvage describes more than just recovering a ship. Instead it also takes into consideration any cargo or property that has to be recovered after a serious accident or shipwreck. In fact, the process can even involve protecting, “…Crew from danger…protection of the marine environment from cargo and oil spills…” and more. (USLegal.com, 2015) Obviously, this means that a lot is going on, and very little of it can be predictable or easily controlled. This is why ship salvage accidents are not unusual, even when safety standards are being followed and obeyed.
The work is so specialized that it is often done by crews or teams trained particularly for this line of work. They may be hire by the U.S. Coast Guard in order to reduce threats created by wreckage, but salvage teams can also be commissioned by vessel owners or other groups. Interestingly enough, because this is considered offshore work, those doing it are going to be protected by maritime laws. So, if there is any sort of ship salvage accident, those who are doing the work are going to enjoy the same protections and rights as those who work in other areas of the maritime industry.
If you are someone who was injured or left disabled by an accident during ship salvage work (or you are the surviving dependent of someone killed doing their job), the laws indicate that you can seek compensation if negligence played a part in the incident. This is something that is up to you to prove to the courts, and this is why hiring an experienced maritime attorney is the first “best step”.
There are so many ways that a vessel owner, employer, or other party can be seen as being negligent and, therefore, liable. Whether it was a clear-cut example of failure to properly train and supervise employees tasked with certain jobs, or more difficult to prove instances of poor maintenance or improper use of gear, your maritime attorney is going to know how to start investigating the case.
Maritime, admiralty, and other related laws take a very harsh stance on negligence. This is because the work of a ship salvage team (also known as salvors) is risky enough. Neglecting to uphold safety standards is just inexcusable, and so there are some very obvious ways that the laws identify negligence.
Some simple examples include working in weather conditions that were unsafe and ill-advised; forcing crews to work for too many consecutive hours, leading to fatigue and poor judgment; sending crews out that were not properly trained for the tasks or left unsupervised during their work; failing to keep equipment properly inspected and in good repair; and failing to keep track of tides and exposing workers to dangerous conditions.
There are other ways that negligence can be proven, and if even a single instance applies, and is a cause of the ship salvage accident, those injured (or their dependents) can then pursue compensation. They can seek compensation for everything from maintenance and cure to medical care or treatment, disability, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Naturally, everything depends on proving that negligence was the cause of the issue, and that is why the attorney is the first step.
If you worked as a pilot, diver, deck crew, or other part of a ship salvage team, you faced a lot of known hazards. If negligence was an unrecognized hazard that led to serious injury or pain, the laws are on your side. You must seek compensation to help cover your expenses and alleviate any suffering.