The Jones Act And Maritime Injury Claims 3 Things To Know

Maritime workers often face the risk of injuries caused by negligence and mechanical failures. These injuries can be fatal and may result not only in physical disabilities but also in mental health issues.

Workers in six maritime industries have been identified as being most prone to maritime injuries. The industries include shipyards, marine terminals and port operations, marine transportation, seafood processing, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and commercial diving.

According to Chopin Law Firm, a firm where you can hire a reputable maritime injury lawyer, staff in the maritime industry are not eligible for traditional workers’ compensation coverage, but they can file claims under maritime law or the Jones Act.

What Is Maritime Injury?

A maritime injury is a term used when a worker on a ship gets hurt or falls sick while on the navigable waters of the United States.

Maritime injuries apply to a wide range of people working or traveling by water, including:

  • Captains and officers
  • Deckhands
  • Commercial fishermen
  • Leisure boaters
  • Pilots
  • Tankerman
  • Cooks
  • Engineers
  • Commercial divers

People injured by the use of motorboats and jet skis for pleasure may also suffer maritime injuries.

Due to the high risk associated with maritime jobs, there are specific laws like the Jones Act that consider the dangers of working on water to provide certain benefits and legal rights for maritime workers, which are different from typical land-based worker protections.

Qualified maritime workers who got injured while on the job can file claims to get compensation and benefits such as lost wages, maintenance and cure, and more.

Hiring a reputable maritime injury lawyer is recommended to get the best compensation for your injury.

The Most Common Types Of Maritime Injuries

Maritime workers face a peculiar set of hazards that can result in a variety of injuries and illnesses. Some of them are more common than others. Below are some of the most common types:

  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Accidents and collision injuries: resulting from a collision between vessels or a vessel and a fixed structure
  • Toxic and chemical exposure
  • Machinery accidents
  • Repetitive motion injuries (RMI)
  • Overexertion injuries

Who Is A Maritime Injury Lawyer?

A maritime injury lawyer, sometimes called an admiralty lawyer, specializes in helping injured maritime workers recover compensation after they have been hurt on the job while in navigable waters.

The attorney helps clients file claims under the appropriate laws.

Tips To Choose The Best Maritime Injury Lawyer For Your Claim

While any attorney can represent an injured maritime worker, not all can effectively help you recover the compensation you deserve.

This area of law is complex and distinct from typical personal injury law; hence, you need a lawyer who specializes in maritime injury to represent you.

Below are some things to consider when hiring one:

  • Experience and track record
  • Accessibility and communication
  • Previous clients’ reviews and testimonials
  • Personal comfort
  • Fees and costs

The Jones Act

The Jones Act was enacted as part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It is named after its sponsor, Senator Wesley R. Jones.

One of the major purposes of the Act is to protect the rights of American maritime workers.

Similar to the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from on-the-job injuries that occur in the navigable waters of the United States.

The Jones Act and the LHWCA are mutually exclusive, which means a maritime worker cannot be simultaneously eligible for both.

3 Things To Know About The Jones Act

The Jones Act is not just to ensure maritime workers get the compensation they deserve in the event of an injury, but also to secure justice for them.

Below are five things about the Act:

1. Easier to prove negligence

Unlike typical personal injury, the Act has a lower threshold requirement for injured seamen to prove negligence on the part of their employer or fellow crew members.

All the seaman needs to show is causation, meaning the slightest evidence that negligence played some part in causing the injuries.

To prove negligence, you must satisfy the following:

  • Duty: Show the defendant owes you a duty of care.
  • Breach: Show the defendant breached their duty of care, such as an employer demanding overtime or failing to implement necessary safety guidelines.
  • Causation: Show that the breach of the duty of care plays a role in you getting injured.
  • Damages: You must show that you suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

2. Only for “seamen”

The Jones Act only protects injured seamen. A Jones Act seaman is expected to spend a significant amount of time working as a crewmember or a captain on a vessel navigating on US water.

Generally, the seaman must have worked on a vessel for at least 30 percent of the total employment time.

Maritime workers who freelance or work as independent contractors for different maritime companies may not qualify as a Jones Act seaman.

However, maritime workers who are not considered seamen under the Act can seek compensation through the LHWCA.

3. Statute of limitations

The Act mandates seamen to report their injury to the captain or medical office within seven days after the occurrence.

Injured maritime workers have a maximum of three years to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.

A successful Jones Act claim can provide compensation for the following;

  • Medical expenses, present and future
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced earning capacity due to disability
  • Loss of support to family members
  • Funeral expenses
  • Mental anguish