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Seafarers’ Rights Attorney

Experience matters. Choose a lawyer who knows how to protect your rights.

At Meister Law, LLC in Miami, we are devoted to protecting the men and women who work on the sea. As a former crew member, Attorney Tonya Meister has seen firsthand how difficult it can be for seafarers to receive the protections they are entitled to under the law. She is a board certified specialist in admiralty law who represents seafarers and their families in a wide variety of claims arising under federal law, including:

Attorney Meister has been involved in many cases that have helped to protect pivotal rights for seafarers in America. One of her biggest achievements to date was writing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend case advocating for the availability of punitive damages in cases where employers willfully refuse to give maintenance and cure benefits to seafarers. The Court ruled in favor of the seafarers in this case, deciding that punitive damages were an available remedy for the willful violation of the seafarers’ basic right to maintenance and cure. This victory has helped seafarers and their families seek punitive damages to punish ship owners who have engaged in this behavior.

Attorney Meister has continued to vigorously advocate for these rights, litigating cases for seafarers in arbitration, state and federal courts throughout Florida. Let her put her experience and skill to work for you today.

A Miami maritime attorney dedicated to helping injured seafarers

Seafarers are often tasked with performing difficult duties that can put their health and welfare in jeopardy. In addition, seafarers are often confronted with demanding employers, unruly passengers and unsafe work conditions, all while being at the mercy of the sea. It comes as no surprise that many seamen are injured while working on vessels. Thankfully, there are laws and remedies that provide seafarers with protection in the event that an injury occurs.

Maintenance and Cure cases

Every sick and injured crew member is entitled to Maintenance and Cure benefits, including Unearned Wages.  The crew member is entitled to these benefits regardless of whether the ship owner is fault or not.  Maintenance is money for food and lodging while the crew member is on shore recovering from the illness or injury.  Cure is payment of all medical expenses, including doctors; hospital; medication, medical equipment and transportation to and from the medical appointments.  The crew member is entitled to these benefits until he or she reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (also called Maximum Cure).  That is when the doctor indicates the crew member has fully recovered or, if a permanent injury, then it is when the doctor indicates that no further medical care will improve the medical condition.  The ship owner must provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care.  The crew member is also entitled to Unearned Wages until the end of voyage or pursuant to the contract terms. If a ship owner willfully refuses a crew member Maintenance and Cure benefits, then the crew member may be entitled to additional damages to compensate the crew member and to punish the ship owner.  If you are denied Maintenance and Cure benefits or the ship owner fails to completely honor their legal obligation to provide these benefits, Attorney Meister can help you.

Jones Act cases

The Jones Act is a US statute that provides crew members the ability to recover money for injuries that were caused by the negligence of their employers or fellow co-workers. Employers have the duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work and reasonably safe tools and equipment.  They are required to have and enforce safety rules.  Some examples of Jones Act negligence are as follows:  requiring excessive duty or overtime; failure to provide proper training; negligent orders, instructions or suggestions by supervisors; negligent hiring of other crew members who were not competent; dangerous or unsafe work or manner of work; assaults by fellow crew members; failure to provide adequate safety measures; failure to maintain safe passageways; failure to provide and maintain safe equipment; failure to warn of a known danger; failure to correct known dangerous conditions and obstructions; failure to provide adequate medical treatment; inadequate supervision, training and instruction to basic safety matters; failure to consider a seaman’s physical limitations in assigning duties; and failure to provide guard rails, etc.  Attorney Meister has extensive experience helping seamen file Jones Act negligence claims against their employers.  If you have been injured due to the fault of your employer, Attorney Meister can help you bring a Jones Act negligence claim against your employer to seek money to compensate you for your losses.


Ship owners have the duty to provide a vessel that is seaworthy.  However, some ship owners allow their vessel to become dangerous.  If a crew member is injured due to an unseaworthy vessel then the ship owner is responsible to pay money damages.   Attorney Meister has extensive experience helping seamen file unseaworthiness claims against ship owners. Unseaworthiness can happen in a number of ways. It can relate to conditions on board that could have been remedied by the ship owner, including uneven decks, defective “anti-slip” surfaces, defective gear, a damaged hull, falling pipes and railings, engine malfunction, fires and more. It can also refer to the improper use of a vessel for its intended service, such as using a 40-foot recreational vessel for deep-sea fishing expeditions.  Vessels can be also be unseaworthy because there is not an adequate number of seamen to safely perform tasks on board, or the crew does not have the proper training to perform them.  If you have been injured as a result of an unseaworthy vessel, contact Meister Law, LLC immediately at 305.590.5570.

Crew members-- you may be entitled to receive money for your injuries, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earnings, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.  Attorney Meister has helped many clients get the money compensation they deserved for their injuries, and she stands ready to assist you today.

Powerful representation at arbitration proceedings and trial

Attorney Meister has built her reputation on providing knowledgeable and aggressive representation for seafarers both in court and at arbitration proceedings.  Regardless of the forum of your case, she concentrates her efforts on two things — taking care of your immediate needs, and then ensuring that you receive compensation for your injuries or the loss of a loved one.

Personal attention. Specialized services. Proven results.

If you need an experienced maritime attorney to protect your rights, call Meister Law, LLC at 305.590.5570 or contact the firm online to schedule an initial consultation. Most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means no payment of attorney fees or costs until and unless you make a recovery. The firm handles cases in state and federal courts throughout Florida.

  • Board Certified in Admiralty Law
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Miami-Dade Justice Association
  • American Association for Justice
  • SouthEastern Admiralty Law Institute