What Is The Jones Act?
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that regulates maritime commerce and protects maritime workers. The law states that if a maritime employee is injured either at port or at sea, they are allowed the same legal protections as if they were on land. These protections include seeking compensation for any injuries sustained while working from either the employer, the shipowner, or even other crew members. The Jones Act also established liability for the shipowner if the shipowner or the crew have created unsafe or dangerous conditions, whether deliberately or from negligence. Finally, The Jones Act granted the right for the injured to have a trial.
For The Jones Act to apply to you directly, you have to prove that you are a “seaman.” A Seaman is a maritime employee. Courts have generally established that seaman are individuals who work at least 30% of their working hours onboard a ship, whether docked or at sea. If there is still a question of the status of the seaman, usually this will be determined by looking at the nature of the employee’s work and their relation to the purpose of the vessel.
Proving Liability Under The Jones Act
The Jones Act requires that employer maintain a safe workplace. Employers can be held liable for a variety of unsafe conditions including breakdown of equipment, improper training, unsafe work methods, and hazardous working conditions. The Jones Act also holds the employer liable for negligence or assault committed by their employees. In these cases the claimant must prove that these conditions caused the injuries in question. Under The Jones Act the burden of proof is much lower than in other claims. To prove liability, the injured party must only prove that the employer was responsible in any way, even a small way, for the injury.
Awarded Damages Under The Jones Act
The Jones Act entitles the same awards for damages as any other personal injury case. That includes the cost of medical bills, rehabilitation, and therapy, as well as lost wages, future lost wages, and lost benefits. Courts may even award interest in the case of a maritime injury.
How To File A Lawsuit Under The Jones Act
The first step in any personal injury case is to hire a qualified personal injury attorney. This is especially important with cases concerning The Jones Act because the laws are very complicated. Since maritime jobs tend to involve a lot of travel, the case can be filed either in the state where the incident occurred or in the state where the claimant lives. A lawsuit under The Jones Act must be filed within three years of the original incident before the statute of limitations runs out. Also like any personal injury cases your attorney will first try to reach a settlement out of court. Then if a settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit will be filed with the courts.
If you are a maritime worker, it is crucial you understand how The Jones Act protects you in a personal injury claim. If you’ve been injured on the job, regardless it is on deck, at sea, or even on land, contact the personal injury attorneys at All Injuries Law Firm. Our dedicated lawyers have the expertise and the experience you need to get compensated for your claim. So contact us today for a free consultation.