Virginia Maritime Lawyer, Jones Act

$3.5 Million Virginia Maritime Lawyer Settlement

Richard Serpe: Master of Laws in Maritime/Admiralty

The best personal injury attorney who devotes their practice to injuries occurring on land will be familiar with state law concepts.

Maritime matters, on the other hand, are governed by federal law. If you are injured in a maritime accident you need an attorney who understands these laws.

  • Master of Laws in Maritime: After law school, Richard Serpe obtained a Master of Laws in Admiralty law from Tulane University School of Law.
  • Proctor of Admiralty: He has obtained the highest ranking (Proctor) from the Maritime Law Association of the United States.
  • Jones Act Case Success: He has successfully prosecuted cases under the Jones Act, bringing fair and just compensation to those who were injured while performing their duties.
  • Protecting Injured Seamen: Richard Serpe has years of experience in protecting the rights of injured seamen. He knows how the insurers of commercial vessels will do everything they can to minimize their financial liability. And, they will do so even if it is at the expense of decent treatment for the injured.
  • Protecting Families: Richard Serpe has successfully settled cases for recreational boating victims that resulted in the death of a loved one by a maritime vessel.


Common Acts of Negligence that Lead to Injury and Death

  • 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
  • Collisions with other vessels

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, seamen can file personal injury claims under the Jones Act. 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 the Jones Act and Do I Qualify?

Who 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 these protections, a maritime worker must fall under the Jones Act definition of a “seaman”. U.S. courts have generally interpreted “seamen” as anyone performing work related to a vessel’s purpose while 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 their circumstances of employment into account. However, this typically means at least 30% of their time.

Maintenance and Cure Compensation

Seamen injured while at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure from employers.  This doctrine is one of the oldest in maritime law, and it has been traced back nearly 1000 years.  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”.  As well, the injury cannot be caused by the seaman’s own willful conduct.

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). In addition, he is also entitled to medical care to cure him of the injury (cure).  These amounts are paid until the seaman is either fit to return to work, or has reached a point where additional medical care will not help.

Sometimes, a seaman might be fit enough to return to work and will lose his right to maintenance. But, if additional medical care could help, he would be entitled to additional cure.


Maintenance should include the cost of maintaining the seaman’s home. This includes rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance, and food.  Historically, employers paid amounts 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 to use private medical insurance to pay the bills.  This is not a good idea because often the “cure” obligation is more broad than that provided by insurance.  Cure should cover all related medical care, and can also include transportation expenses to see the doctors.

Contact Our Virginia Maritime Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a maritime-related accident, you should have an experienced Virginia maritime lawyer by your side. Contact us for your free, no obligation consultation.


Virginia Maritime Lawyer Settlements & Verdicts
Barge Accident Caused Brain Injury
Richmond, Virginia
Vessel Collision Caused Severe Injuries
Portsmouth, Virginia
Barge Accident
Norfolk, Virginia
Unseaworthy Vessel Caused Injury
Fishing Boat Accident
Norfolk, Virginia
We help people like you every day
Richard Serpe, and his staff did a thorough investigation into the dog owner
My 7-year-old daughter was outside playing with friends in front of our home when she was viciously attacked by our neighbor’s Rottweiler. The Rottweiler dug a hole under the fence,
- Shaniqua J., Winchester, VA
Richard Serpe was able to get an excellent recovery for my daughter
When my daughter suffered an injury from lead poisoning, I did not know where to turn. There did not seem to be many lawyers who could help. The landlord responsible
- Angela Woodson, Richmond, VA
Thank you Richard Serpe and your firm
This firm has been beside us through the whole process from when we first found out that our home had been built with Chinese drywall until justice was served. They
- Elizabeth C., Virginia Beach, VA
The people who work for him were always great to work with
Richard Serpe handled the case for my daughter for injuries she received over 10 years ago. The people who work for him were always great to work with! They responded
- Mikhal Taylor, Richmond Virginia
Such a wonderful group of people to have by your side
Such a wonderful group of people to have by your side! Genuinely cares and wants to help you and your family 🙂
- Allena A., Eastern Shore of VA
Richard acted as my advocate, my friend, my partner and my champion
Within seconds of meeting with Richard Serpe, he identified a number of potential mistakes I was making – many of which could have been quite costly. Throughout the entire process,
- Melissa Baumann, Norfolk, VA
I endorse this lawyer
I endorse this lawyer. Richard is an extremely intelligent person and a very kind man. Not only is Richard a top-notch attorney, but he also is very compassionate one. You
- Art Serratelli, Virginia Beach Immigration Lawyer
I would recommend Richard Serpe
After a major maritime accident on the water, I was scared and didn’t know where to turn. The Law Offices of Richard Serpe and his great staff treated me with
- Eddie Stodghill, Richmond, VA
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