A Jones Act lawyer may be able to assist workers who were injured due to the negligence of vessel owners, companies, shipmasters or fellow crew members. Seamen, as well as other maritime employees and crew members, are generally not covered by workers’ compensation benefits; those rights are covered by federal law, also known as the Jones Act. According to the Jones Act, workers and other employees who have been injured, as well as the families of those who have been killed, while working offshore may be eligible to pursue compensation for damages with the help of a personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one was injured while working for a private, public or military contractor or subcontractor overseas, contact an attorney at the Johnson Firm to learn about your options. You can fill out the form on this page, call us at 501-777-7777 or email us at [email protected].
We offer free, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
What is the Jones Act and Who Is Covered?
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that regulates certain aspects of maritime activities and commerce. The Jones Act also protects seamen and other crew members by giving them the right to file a claim for damages in the event of an injury.
Title 46 § 30104 of the United States Code states the following:
A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer.
Nearly all land-based employees are entitled to some sort of workers’ compensation; seamen and other maritime crew members are not. The Jones Act gives such workers and employees the ability to seek compensation should an injury accident occur.
According the Jones Act, the employer of the crew member is legally responsible for any damages sustained by an injured worker as a result of the negligence of the employer, a co-employee or shipmaster. Those covered under the act are known as “seamen.” In general, a worker or employee who spends at least 30 percent of their time in service of the vessel qualifies as a seaman under the act.
Workers or employees may include:
Other common situations in which the Jones Act could be applied might also include cruise ship employees, shrimp and fishing boat workers, and passengers of water vehicles who are injured due to the negligence of an employer, employee or other company or person involved.
Negligence Under the Jones Act
Vessel owners, other companies and maritime employers, employees, and shipmasters are legally obligated to act in a reasonable manner when operating a vessel offshore. If a worker is injured or killed due to the negligence of an employer, owner, company, coworker or other entity, the worker or their family may be entitle to compensation.
Likewise, under general maritime law, a vessel owner may be liable for injuries associated with or caused by an unseaworthy condition, including issues with other crew members, improper cargo storage, defective tools and machinery, inadequate safety equipment, issues with the deck (such as obstructions and slick surface), and other failures associated with onboard equipment.
Serious injuries associated with maritime work may include:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Hip injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Loss of limbs
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Family members and loved ones of those who lost their lives as a result of an accident that occurred while working overseas may be entitled to compensation for emotional pain and distress as well as funeral and burial expenses, regardless of the cause of the injury.
Jones Act Claims
Like most workers’ compensation laws, injured workers covered by the Jones Act are entitled to medical treatment and expenses, rehabilitation expenses, and temporary total disability compensation. Unlike workers’ compensation rules, injured parties who file a claim under the Jones Act only have to prove slight negligence.
A claim under the Jones Act may be brought either in state or federal court. The right to bring an action in state court is preserved by the “savings to suitors” clause, 28 U.S.C. § 1333. The seaman or plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial, a right which is not afforded in maritime law absent a statute authorizing it.
Submitting a claim can be time consuming and may take several months to process. For this reason, it is important to seek legal counsel from a Jones Act attorney because there may be more than one party liable for your injuries. A Jones Act attorney can protect your legal rights and may be able to help you recover compensation for your condition.
How Jones Act Lawyer Can Help
Work-related accidents can potentially cause severe psychological, financial, and physical pain for injured people and their families. Extensive medical bills, permanent injuries, and dealing with the trauma of a serious injury can have a significant impact on one’s life.
Under the Jones Act, maritime employees who have been injured or killed during the course of employment may be entitled to certain remedies, including maintenance, medical cure, unearned wages and additional benefits.
- Maintenance –Injured workers are entitled to “maintenance” (a daily stipend or payment that covers an injured worker’s room and board expenses while they recover from a potential injury) from the end of the voyage after an injury until the point at which their injury reaches maximum medical improvement, or the point at which no further medical treatment can improve the condition of the injured worker.
- Medical Expenses – Employers have the duty to pay for any medical expenses — including prescription medications and transportation — related to an injury, illness or other condition.
- Unearned or Lost Wages – Maritime employers have a duty to pay any and all unearned wages an injured worker would have earned had they remained on the vessel to the end of the voyage, the end of the contract, or the end of the normal pay period.
Likewise, the families of those killed in maritime-related accidents may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.