Your recourse under the Jones Act & Maritime Law
The United States Congress passed the Jones Act in 1970 to provide uniform liability standards by which litigation of maritime injuries would be governed. It protects crew members of a ship or other vessel, including inland river workers and offshore employees on these and other sea-faring structures:
- Barges (including construction or lay barges)
- Cargo ships
- Chemical ships
- Crew boats
- Cruise ships
- Diving vessels
- Drill ships
- Fishing boats
- Floating cranes
- Jack-up rigs
- Motorized platforms
- Semi-submersible ships or rigs
- Tugs and towboats
- Research vessels
- Recreational boats
While the Jones Act addresses the liability of marine craft operators and employers in the injury or death of an employee, this law differs from worker’s compensation in that it does not require payment regardless of fault. To receive financial compensation in a Jones Act Lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that fault or negligence by vessel owners or operators — or a defect in the vessel or related equipment – caused his or her injury.
In other words: For an injured seaman to win a personal injury claim under maritime law, his or her employer or coworkers must have done something unreasonable or been negligent in performing a reasonable act that would have prevented injury.
Under maritime law, it is possible an injured worker’s claim will illustrate that a dangerous condition actually caused the vessel to be unseaworthy and thus unfit for its intended purpose. If that is true in your case, you may file suit to require the vessel owner to pay your medical bills and to provide a daily allowance for as long as your injuries prevent your return to work.
Depending upon your individual case, you also may seek compensation for disfigurement, past and future loss of income, loss of the ability to keep house and care for yourself, loss of capacity to enjoy life, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and other damages.
If you have incurred a maritime-related injury, beginning the litigation process in a timely fashion is key to the success of your suit. While each case varies by accident location and other specifics, generally you have from one to three years from the date of the accident to file suit. Missing certain interim deadlines, however, may disqualify you from seeking compensation at all. For example, some claims require that you start the process before the first anniversary of the accident.
Likewise, gathering preliminary information in a maritime case tends to be more challenging than in a non-maritime suit, simply due to varied crew work schedules and the remote location of accident sites. It is important to get your attorney involved as soon as possible so that he or she has time to establish the main facts of your case, interview witnesses and secure their statements, and ensure he or she has all of the details required to properly represent you. A thorough understanding of maritime law is necessary to determine which rules, deadlines and requirements apply to your specific situation. Charging ahead with the wrong approach may seriously detract from your ability to collect the compensation you deserve.
If you have sustained a serious maritime injury that has caused physical pain or left you unable to continue in your chosen profession, don’t let a misunderstanding of the complex rules surrounding your claim rob you of your right to legal recourse. Call the Hunt Law Firm now, or you can fill out this online personal injury form. We will explain your rights under the Jones Act, and there is no charge unless we collect for you. And remember: By law, your employer may not terminate your benefits or retaliate in any way against you for hiring legal representation.