Qualifying seamen and other offshore workers could recover compensation by filing a claim based on the Jones Act, 46 USC §30104. The damages that can be recovered in a Jones Act claim depend on the maritime worker’s specific expenses and losses.
In general, they could recover benefits they might otherwise receive if they qualified for a workers’ compensation claim or filed a personal injury lawsuit under state law. This could include medical care costs, wage loss benefits, and more. Identifying and documenting your damages is a crucial part of recovering compensation after any workplace injury.
Understanding the Jones Act
What the Jones Act does includes establishing the boat owner or operator’s responsibility to keep those working on the vessel safe. If there is an injury or illness because of negligence or unseaworthiness on a sea-faring ship, the injured crew member can pursue damages. This is possible by holding their employer, the boat owner, or another liable party accountable.
While general maritime law provides some causes of action and limited recoverable damages, the Jones Act expands on that for workers who qualify as “seamen.” This is beneficial because state workers’ compensation laws do not apply to most individuals working offshore on a moving vessel.
Do I Qualify to Pursue Damages Under the Jones Act?
Determining if you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act is not always clear-cut. This body of law is broader than many expect it to be. In general, you likely qualify if:
- You work on a boat or another vessel that is not moored, i.e., is in navigation.
- Your onboard duties are necessary for the mission of the vessel.
- You spend at least 30 percent of your work time on the boat, creating a “substantial connection” to it.
If you have questions about your legal options following an onboard injury or related illness, we will be able to assess your case to determine if you meet the definition of a seaman. If so, a Jones Act attorney from our firm will file a claim for you.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
What Will My Compensation from a Jones Act Claim Cover?
Seamen injured on the open water can recover “Maintenance & Cure” through the Jones Act. Regardless of fault, you may be able to recover:
- Medical care for your injury or illness until you reach maximum medical improvement, called MMI
- Compensation for your shelter and other living expenses that you would receive if you were still on the ship, until you can return to work or reach MMI
The Jones Act also provides a path for a seaman injured by the boat owner or operator’s negligence to seek additional damages. This could include:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Diminished earning capacity
- Future related medical care costs
- Pain and suffering
- Other intangible damages
Following a deadly accident, the seaman’s family has the option of pursuing wrongful death damages. Examples include income losses, loss of services, funeral and burial costs, loss of support, and other intangible losses.
How Can I Prove My Jones Act Claim?
The liable party in a Jones Act claim is generally the seaman’s employer. These cases rely on proving negligence and holding the employer responsible for failing to keep their workers safe.
To recover damages in a Jones Act claim or lawsuit, you will need to prove:
- The owner, captain, or another crew member on the vessel was careless or reckless.
- This caused your injuries or illness.
- You sustained financial harm as a result.
Proving negligence is not always easy, especially when the party you are up against denies all liability. Many people choose to work with a Jones Act lawyer to navigate this process.
An Attorney May Be Able to Navigate the Jones Act Claims Process for You
A Jones Act lawyer from our firm could handle your claim and all the steps required to build a strong case at no upfront cost to you and your family. We use our firm’s resources and knowledge to:
- Investigate the accident or incident
- Collect evidence of negligence
- Document your injuries and losses
- Develop and file the claim
- Protect your rights
- Negotiate for a just settlement
- File a lawsuit, if needed
If you need to sue, there are deadlines you should know about. Per 46 USC §30106, you generally only have three years from the date of your injury to sue under the Jones Act. Our attorneys can help you keep up with this deadline and ensure you do not miss it if it becomes necessary to sue in your case.
Morris Bart, LLC Can Handle Your Jones Act Claim After an Offshore Injury
Our team at the Morris Bart law firm offers free consultations to offshore workers and maritime sailors hurt while working on a sea-faring vessel. We know how to navigate the claims process and seek compensation for our clients.
We are a contingency fee firm serving Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call (800) 537-8185 today to learn more about how we can support your case if you suffered injuries offshore in the Gulf of Mexico or another nearby waterway.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.