The Jones Act is a federal law that was designed to protect Americans who are injured while working on vessels offshore. The law holds the employer of the worker responsible for any injuries that occur while on the job and obligates the employer to give compensation for the maintenance and cure of the injury. However, the Jones Act is different from a worker’s compensation statute because negligence by the employer or the company must be proved in order for the employee to receive future benefits for pain & suffering, future lost wages, etc. Proving negligence under maritime law can be difficult, and having a lawyer who specializes in the Jones Act, with a proven track record of winning cases for their clients, is a necessity you can’t afford not to have.
Who is Covered Under The Jones Act?
Unfortunately, not everyone employed by a maritime company is covered under The Jones Act – making many workers covered only by workers’ compensation benefits. The law provides only for “seaman” who are injured while in the service of a ship. Since there is little clarification of who qualifies as a “seaman,” maritime attorneys will often have to refer to previous court cases and decisions to determine if the injured party is may be a “seaman.” Typically, courts determine a seaman to be a person who is employed to work on a ship, vessel, or fleet of vessels and spends at least 30% of the time working aboard the vessel. The term is also only applied to those who work on navigable – travelled for commerce – waters. This includes the not only the ports on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (ie. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, etc.) and Gulf of Mexico, but the Great Lakes and Inland Rivers that flow between states (ie. Ohio River, Mississippi River, Alabama River, Kanawha River, etc.)
If you are injured and think you may be covered by the Jones Act, it is important that you contact a maritime attorney specializing in The Jones Act immediately. The sooner a qualified attorney is involved in the case, the sooner the compensation process – whether The Jones Act or not – can begin.
What is Negligence under the Jones Act and How Can I Prove It?
If a seaman is injured due to faulty equipment, a defect with the vessel, ship, or barge, inadequate or incompetent crew, or any other way that the company or employer could have prevented, the seaman may be bring a separate action for negligence under the Jones Act. Proving that an injury occurred because of the negligent conduct of the employer is the key factor in acquiring full compensation under The Jones Act. The compensation includes future lost wages, future medical treatment, future pain & suffering, etc. If the employer or company is not proven negligent, the seaman is only entitled to Maintenance & Cure.
Proving negligence is important not only to the injured seaman, but to the entire company and other employees. When a seaman is injured, the employer or vessel owner is required to complete and file with the U.S. Coast Guard an Accident Report known as Form 2692, which sets out how and under what circumstances the seaman was injured. The purpose of reporting injuries to the Coast Guard, and the result of filing negligence lawsuits, is to have the employer or vessel owner promptly investigate accidents, determine their root cause and enact policies, training programs, etc. to eliminate whatever hazard caused the accident and injury. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, the employer or vessel owner still must take steps to mitigate the risk of injury associated with the task, equipment, etc. This helps to assure that no one else is injured due to the same negligence. It is important that injured American seamen on navigable waters contact a maritime attorney specializing in The Jones Act as soon as possible to assure that your rights are protected.
Where Can I Find an Attorney Who Specializes in The Jones Act?
The attorneys at The Moschetta Law Firm, P.C. are experienced accidents that are covered by The Jones Act and General Maritime Law of the United States. When you hire an attorney from Moschetta Law Firm, you can be certain that your attorney will examine every detail of your accident to determine whether any negligence by the employer or vessel owner led to your injury. Contact us today – before the time limitations for The Jones Act expire – and receive a free initial consultation on your case.