For most workers in the United States, an injury on the job means workers’ compensation. For people who work on ships, the process for compensation is very different. The Jones Act governs a variety of issues in the shipping industry, including the processing of worker injury claims.
If you are a sailor, seafarer, or mariner hurt on the job, you may qualify for injury compensation under the Jones Act.
At Haun Mena, we are problem solvers. Our goal is to solve your problems so that you can receive fair compensation following a workplace injury. Let us evaluate your case and explain all your options. Contact us to get started with a free case review.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It regulates maritime commerce in the United States in a variety of ways. Most notably, it controls the ownership of vessels shipping between U.S. ports. In addition, it gives seamen injured in their employment the right to bring a personal injury claim against their employer.
What does the Jones Act say about injuries at work?
Usually, people who are hurt while on the job in the United States receive workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits are limited. The victim receives medical care and replacement income if they are unable to work.
The benefits that an injured seaman can receive are more encompassing than what’s available under state worker’s compensation programs. However, because of the Jones Act, injured seamen have the right to bring a personal injury claim against their employer. If the employer has any negligence, the victim may sue for a range of damages, including non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
How is the Jones Act different from workers’ compensation?
Under the Jones Act, the injured worker must prove the employer’s negligence. They must prove that the employer did something to cause the accident. In traditional workers’ compensation, the victim doesn’t have to prove the fault of the employer.
Even though the victim must prove that the employer is at fault, the requirement for proving proximate cause is relaxed. In most personal injury claims, the victim must prove that the defendant’s negligence is a substantial cause of their injuries. In a Jones Act claim, there may be multiple causes of the victim’s injuries. If the employer was negligent in any way – even 1% negligent, that is enough for the worker to receive Jones Act benefits.
Common Dangers for Seamen
Some of the dangers that workers face on ships are:
- Slip and fall dangers, including from oil and other substances on deck
- Struck by or stuck between accidents, including falling heavy objects
- Lack of personal protective equipment
- Too few employees to complete the work safely
- Exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals
- Equipment failures because of inadequate inspection and maintenance
- Poor maintenance or negligent operation of the ship itself
- Working too quickly and not giving workers enough time to rest
- Failing to stop when there are warning signs
- Hiring unqualified workers; failing to remove workers who perform poorly
Where does an injured seaman file for injury benefits?
An injured worker may file their Jones Act claim in federal district court or state court. Our lawyers can help you determine the best place to file your claim.
Who qualifies under the Jones Act?
It’s unlikely that any seafaring business does all their work on the seas. They may have some employers who work on land, at least part-time. Not everyone who works for a maritime company qualifies for an injury to be handled by the Jones Act. They must qualify as a seaman.
Workers who spend at least 30% of their time on the seas are seamen covered by the Jones Act. The level of the worker doesn’t matter. They may be the captain of a ship or a crew member. If an employee doesn’t spend 30% or more of their time in service on navigable waters, traditional state workers’ compensation benefits are likely to apply.
Jones Act Injury FAQs
What is the statute of limitations for a Jones Act injury claim?
An injured worker has three years to claim compensation under the Jones Act.
Is there a right to a jury trial?
The victim may choose to have a jury trial in a Jones Act claim.
What is the purpose of the Jones Act?
The Jones Act provides protections for workers on the seas to ensure that they’re not taken advantage of in their employment and that they receive the help they need when an injury occurs. The law requires an employer to provide a reasonably safe workplace and take ordinary care to prevent injuries.
What can a victim receive in compensation for a workplace injury?
In a Jones Act claim, the victim may claim traditional personal injury damages like medical bills, lost wages, and earning capacity. They may also claim pain and suffering.
What are maintenance and cure?
If a victim is injured or becomes ill while in service of a vessel, they may claim maintenance and cure compensation. Maintenance provides benefits for daily living expenses. Cure covers medical care like hospitalization, emergency services, and treatment until the victim has reached maximum medical improvement. Most employers carry insurance to cover these types of claims. There may be union agreements that dictate how much the victim may receive.
Lawyers for Jones Act Injury Claims
At Haun Mena, we represent individuals who are hurt, including Jones Act claims. Let us evaluate your claim to determine how to best pursue compensation, including whether the claim falls under the Jones Act, state workers’ compensation law, or other laws. We develop a plan that is specific for you and handle all the steps to pursue your claim.
Call or message us for your case review. Learn about all your options with no risk and no cost. We will fight to recover the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries.