All maritime workers have rights and options for legal action after suffering an on-the-job injury. However, not all qualify to take these actions or recover the benefits provided by the Jones Act. The Jones Act applies explicitly to qualifying seamen. So, no, not all maritime workers are covered by the Jones Act.
The Jones Act, 46 U.S. Code §30104, defines what makes a maritime worker a qualifying seaman. The provisions in this statute allow these workers to build a negligence claim against their employer, the boat owner, or the operator and recover compensation.
How does the Jones Act Describe a Qualifying Seaman?
Generally speaking, you may have a Jones Act case if you:
- Work on a sea-faring vessel, boat, or fleet
- The ship operates on the open ocean or in a navigable waterway
- Your duties contribute to the function of the vessel
- You spend a substantial amount of your time at work on the vessel
Under the Jones Act, you must meet the legal definition of a seaman as provided in these laws to file a claim based on them. Therefore, you may want to work with a maritime lawyer knowledgeable about these cases to learn more about your legal options, regardless of whether you are a qualifying seaman.
How do I Know If I Qualify for Legal Protections Under the Jones Act?
You can get a good idea of whether you meet the Jones Act definition of a seaman by considering these three things:
- Is your ship or another vessel in navigation? For example, an oil rig permanently connected to the ocean floor is unlikely to qualify you.
- Are your duties essential to the boat’s operation or mission? For example, you may not qualify if you are a clerical worker even through you spend time on the ship.
- Are you substantially connected to the vessel? If you only spend short parts of your work on the boat, you may not qualify. In general, you should work on the vessel at least 30 percent of your working hours.
If you can answer yes to all these questions, you may be able to seek and recover compensation under a Jones Act claim. However, if you are a crew member or dock worker who does not meet these criteria, you still have legal rights. Maritime law provides options for all workers to recover financially after an injury.
To learn more about what you can do to get back on your feet following an offshore injury or illness, you may want to work with a Jones Act lawyer. Most provide complimentary case reviews and can offer advice based on your specific circumstances.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
What Damages Can a Seaman Recover Through a Jones Act Claim?
The Jones Act offers qualifying seamen the following rights:
- The right to hold their employer or another liable party responsible
- The right to recover for personal injuries caused by negligence or unseaworthiness
- The right to seek maintenance and cure payments and other damages they suffered
The damages and benefits that may be available to a seaman after an offshore injury or illness include:
- Related medical care and treatment
- Future treatment and support
- Lost wages and reduced capacity to work in the future
- Pain and suffering damages
- Other intangible losses
If a seaman dies from their injuries, surviving family members may also be able to seek compensation for their wrongful death losses.
How Can I Prove an Accident Claim Based on the Jones Act?
Like other personal injury cases, the Jones Act claims are based on negligence. You will need to show that your employer, the boat owner, or another liable party acted carelessly or recklessly. This generally requires you to prove four things:
- They had an obligation to protect your well-being by acting in specific ways, a duty created by the Jones Act and other maritime law
- They failed to uphold this obligation
- Their failure caused your accident, injury, or illness
- You suffered financial, physical, and psychological harm
A Jones Act attorney may make pursuing damages easier. They can handle the investigation into your accident and injuries while you focus on getting treatment and healing. They will also protect your rights and fight for a fair settlement.
If your lawyer needs to take your case to trial, you may have up to three years to sue the liable parties under 46 U.S. Code §30106. Exceptions could mean you have even less time.
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Our Law Firm Offers Free Consultations for Injured Maritime Workers
The Morris Bart law firm provides complimentary case assessments for offshore and maritime workers who suffered injuries or illnesses because of their employment. You may be able to seek and recover compensation under the Jones Act or another maritime law. We have 15 locations across four states in the Gulf South: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 today to speak with a member of our team for free.
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