The Jones Act: Protecting Seamen’s Rights on Navigable Waters
January 24, 2023
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that provides protections and benefits for seamen who are injured or killed while working on vessels on navigable waters. Under the Jones Act, a seaman who is injured or killed while working on a vessel can bring a personal injury claim against the vessel owner or employer.
There are several types of personal injury claims that can be brought under the Jones Act, including:
- Negligence: A negligence claim under the Jones Act alleges that the vessel owner or employer failed to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance and operation of the vessel, resulting in injury or death to the seaman. This can include failure to properly train and supervise crew members, failure to properly maintain equipment, and failure to provide a safe working environment.
- Unseaworthiness: An unseaworthiness claim under the Jones Act alleges that the vessel was not fit for its intended purpose, resulting in injury or death to the seaman. This can include issues such as defective equipment, inadequate safety measures, or a lack of proper maintenance.
- Maintenance and Cure: A maintenance and cure claim under the Jones Act is a claim for compensation for medical expenses and lost wages that a seaman incurs as a result of an injury or illness suffered while working on the vessel. This claim applies regardless of fault and is the responsibility of the vessel owner or employer.
- Wrongful Death: A wrongful death claim under the Jones Act is a claim brought by the family of a seaman who was killed while working on a vessel. This claim can be brought against the vessel owner or employer for damages such as loss of support and companionship, funeral expenses, and other related damages.
- Jones Act Employer Retaliation: A Jones Act Employer Retaliation claim is a claim brought by a seaman who has suffered retaliation from the employer or vessel owner in response to the seaman making a claim or complaint related to the Jones Act.
It’s important to note that, in order to bring a Jones Act claim, the injured seaman must be able to prove that they were employed by the vessel owner or employer and that the injury occurred while they were working on a vessel on navigable waters. Additionally, the Jones Act also has a statute of limitations, which is a time limit within which a claim must be filed.
In the event of a personal injury claim under the Jones Act, the injured seaman is entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages. The seaman may also be entitled to additional compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other non-economic damages.
It’s important for injured seamen to seek legal representation as soon as possible following an injury. An experienced attorney can help injured seamen navigate the legal process, gather and present evidence, and negotiate with the vessel owner or employer for fair and just compensation.
The Jones Act provides important protections and benefits for seamen who are injured or killed while working on vessels on navigable waters. There are several types of personal injury claims that can be brought under the Jones Act, including negligence, unseaworthiness, maintenance and cure, wrongful death and Jones Act Employer Retaliation. It’s important for injured seamen to seek legal representation as soon as possible following an injury in order to ensure that they are fully compensated for their losses
If you or a loved one have been hurt or killed while working aboard a vessel, please contact the Jones Act attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a free consultation!