If you are a seaman who has been injured as a result of your employer’s negligence, you are likely aware that you can seek compensation from your employer for the expenses and impacts of your injury through a Jones Act claim. What you might not be aware of, however, is that – like most types of personal injury claims – Jones Act claims have a statute of limitations. Failing to file your claim within this statutory deadline will generally result in the loss of your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
One of the many benefits of having an experienced attorney from Morris Bart assist you with your claim is ensuring that it gets filed in the proper court within the statutory time limits. If you’re considering filing a Jones Act claim, let our experienced attorney tell you more about the process and the services we can provide to assist you through a free case evaluation.
What Is the Jones Act Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations on a Jones Act claim is three years from the date on which your injury occurred. This does not mean that the claim must be resolved within this time period, only that the claim has been filed.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations on Jones Act Claims?
The statute of limitations refers to a law passed by the state or federal government that sets the maximum amount of time that individuals who have suffered an injury or loss have to file their claim in court. Lawmakers began instituting statutes of limitations in personal injury and Jones Act claims in order to prevent frivolous lawsuits. It is generally believed that the more time that passes between when an injury takes place and a claim is filed, the harder it is to prove what really happened.
What Needs to Be Accomplished Within the Statute of Limitations?
It seems fairly easy – in theory, at least – to file a lawsuit within three years. However, there are a number of things that must be accomplished before the statute of limitations expires on your Jones Act claim, including:
- Reporting your injury to your employer, which must be done within 7 days of when the injury occurred
- Obtaining medical treatment for your injury, making sure to follow all of your doctor’s requests and attending all of your appointments
- Hiring an attorney to help you. It is important to do this quickly before the insurance company begins seeking a statement as your attorney can help you understand the tactics commonly used by insurance companies to avoid payouts on claims
- Obtaining maintenance and cure benefits, which are temporary benefits that you can seek to cover day-to-day living expenses and medical treatment that are obtained until such time as you reach maximum medical improvement and a determination is made on your ability to return to work
- Gathering the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your Jones Act claim in court
- Settlement negotiations between your attorney and your employer’s insurer in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer
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Do You Need to Reach Maximum Medical Improvement to File Your Claim?
Maximum medical improvement is a term that defines when an individual has reached a point in healing from injury in which no more improvement of their condition is expected, even if medical treatment continues. Depending on the type of injury you suffered, it could take months or even years to reach this point.
While maximum medical improvement is an important aspect of a Jones Act claim as it impacts the amount of compensation you can receive for the expenses and impacts of your injury as well as providing your employer with information regarding whether you are capable of working and what types of job-related tasks you are able to perform. However, you do not have to reach maximum medical improvement before you file your claim.
Where Are Jones Act Claims Filed?
Jones Act claims can be filed in either federal or state court, and the claimant can decide whether they want a trial by jury or a trial before a judge.
Who Qualifies for Jones Act Claims?
In order to be eligible to file a Jones Act claim, you must:
- Be employed as a crew member on a vessel, with at least 30 percent of your career spent on the vessel
- Be able to prove that your injury was due, at least in part, by the negligence of your employer or other crew members
- Be able to show the vessel you were working on was not seaworthy, meaning it had mechanical or structural issues that rendered it unsafe when navigated at sea
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How Hard is It to Have a Successful Outcome to a Jones Act Claim?
The Jones Act is an employee-friendly federal maritime law that allows seamen to obtain a higher level of benefits than other types of employees can recover through a worker’s compensation claim. The burden of proof in Jones Act claims is lower than in other types of personal injury claims, in that you do not have to prove that the proximate cause of your injury was your employer’s negligence. Instead, you only have to prove that your employer’s negligence played a part – however small – in causing you to become injured.
While the law is friendly to employees, that does not mean that the process is so simple that an employee can file a Jones Act claim on their own. Attorneys provide experience not only in the legal process but in the tactics that insurance companies will use to reduce the amount of your claim.
Trust Morris Bart to Ensure Your Jones Act Claim is Filed on Time
Statutes of limitations are simply one aspect of your claim that we can help you with. To learn more about Jones Act claims, to discuss the details of your case, and learn more about how we can assist you, contact us online.
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to find a Morris Bart office near you.