The Jones Act Law, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, is the most relevant statute for maritime workers. It protects and empowers seamen to receive benefits and compensation if they become injured while on the job. A Jones Act lawyer specializes in maritime accidents and has the right knowledge of the Jones Act Law and its specifics. They can protect your rights as well as provide legal representation to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. At Morrow & Sheppard, we have experienced personal injury attorneys committed to protecting the rights of injured maritime workers in Texas and Louisiana. Hiring an experienced attorney like us after an accident is crucial to determining whether or not you have a maritime injury case and getting legal advice on how to proceed. We provide a detailed guide to the Jones Act Law and why you should hire a Jones Act lawyer.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a federal law that regulates and governs the shipment of goods in the United States’ coastal waters. The act’s main purpose is to enable seamen who have been injured at sea during employment to hold their employers liable for their injuries. The Jones Act Law was passed in 1920 to protect seamen and their rights. Before its existence, maritime workers had no protection, and many injured were deprived of necessary compensation. To close the loopholes that allowed employers to get away with negligence, the United States Congress enacted the Jones Act.
Key Provisions and Protections
Under the Jones Act, any individual who spends 30% of their time on board a navigating vessel is entitled to compensation. If you develop an illness or become injured while aboard due to negligence, you can hold your employer liable. The court determines the liability and responsibility for your case before offering monetary compensation.
Types of Vessels and Workers Covered by the Jones Act
The type of workers covered by the Jones Act are seamen – any individual employed or engaged in any capacity aboard a vessel. These vessels include cargo ships, cruise ships, casino boats, tankers, ferries, fishing boats, charter boats, as well as offshore drilling rigs. All boats and ships are covered under the Jones Act as long as they meet these specifications:
- Registered and built in the US
- Operated by permanent residents or US citizens
- At least 75% owned by a company in the US
- The crew comprises at least 75% Americans
Common Causes of Maritime Injuries
It’s inherently dangerous to work at sea, which is why maritime workers face numerous hazards daily. In fact, these hazards result in serious and life-threatening injuries impacting the quality of life for seamen. There are a dozen causes for maritime accidents, some of which are unavoidable, like weather, while others are directly attributed to human error. Common causes for maritime injuries include:
- Vessel accidents and collisions
- Slip and fall accidents
- Equipment malfunction and failure malfunction
- Inadequate supervision or training
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and hazardous substances
Types of Injuries and Illnesses Covered by the Jones Act
The types of injuries and illnesses covered under the Jones Act include:
If you have sustained the following physical injuries while working at sea due to negligence, you are entitled to compensation:
According to OSHA, occupational illnesses are any disorders or abnormal conditions resulting from exposure or non-instantaneous event in the work environment – in this case, aboard a vessel.
- Respiratory diseases
- Tinnitus and hearing loss
- Skin conditions
- Long-term illnesses like cancer
Compensation and Benefits Under the Jones Act
Compensation and benefits offered under the Jones Act fall under the following categories:
- Maintenance and cure: This covers wages, cost of living, as well as all reasonable medical expenses.
- Lost wages and earning capacity: This covers money you could have earned but didn’t because you couldn’t work after your maritime injury.
- Pain and suffering: This covers the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
- Medical expenses and rehabilitation: This covers all medical expenses for treating your injuries.
- Loss of consortium and other non-economic damages: This covers damages such as loss of companionship, comfort, as well as intimate relations with family.
Proving Negligence and Unseaworthiness
Under the Jones Act, the employer or another worker must cause your injury or illness for you to receive compensation. Determining fault and proving negligence and unseaworthiness is crucial to pursuing your maritime injury case. A Jones Act lawyer can help you prove negligence under the following claims:
- Failure to provide adequate training and safety awareness
- Lack of adequate safety measures and policies in place
- Poor maintenance and repair
- Use of damaged and defective equipment and machinery
- Hazardous conditions on board
- Inadequate training or crewing
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Jones Act Lawyer
The Jones Act features a complex set of rules and principles that require the expertise and knowledge of a Jones Act lawyer to seek compensation. In fact, only a lawyer familiar with maritime law and its complexities can help you understand the total value of your claim and maximize your compensation. They can help you prove negligence, navigate the legal process, as well as deal with insurance companies. An experienced Jones Act lawyer can also ensure the timely filing of claims and meet deadlines.
Our Law Firm’s Expertise and Track Record
At Morrow & Sheppard, we have a proven track record of success in maximizing compensation and finding justice for maritime workers after serious injuries aboard vessels. We’ve represented thousands of maritime injury workers and achieved favorable results for all our clients. Feel free to read some of our success stories and client testimonials. We commit to personalized attention and dedicated representation, which makes us the right law firm for you.
How to Start With Your Jones Act Claim
To start with your Jones Act claim, schedule a free consultation with our experienced Jones Act lawyers. Be sure to prepare for the consultation by making a list of questions, gathering relevant documents, and determining your goals. After the consultation, we will build and pursue your Jones Act claim by gathering all the evidence and filing the claim. During negotiations and potential litigations, you can also expect offers from your employer or their insurance company. However, don’t sign any settlement paperwork or accept payment until you’ve discussed it with your lawyer. Contact us today to start with your Jones Act Claim.