Maritime Injury Lawyers
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal maritime law designed to provide U.S. seamen with rights not afforded by common international maritime law. It allows injured "seamen" to file suit against their employers based on negligence and unseaworthiness of a "vessel".
Who is considered a "seaman"?
For purposes of the Jones Act, the definition of a "seaman" has changed since the inception in 1920. While the status of seaman continues to be debated, a seaman is generally considered to be a member of a marine vessel's crew whose employment exposes him or her to the "perils of the sea". Seamen can include a watercraft's crew, river pilots, ship captains, and those who work on tugs, barges, dredges and movable rigs.
What is considered a "vessel"?
In a 2005 opinion, the definition of "vessel" for purposes of the Jones Act was expanded to any watercraft that is not permanently grounded or moored and is practically capable of transportation over water.
How about production and drilling platforms?
Only certain "movable" drilling and other production platforms are considered vessels. If they are permanently attached to the sea floor, they are not considered vessels under the Jones Act.
Can an injured maritime worker sue his or her employer for damages?
Seamen can sue their employer for negligence or unseaworthiness of the vessel. Non-seamen maritime workers cannot sue their employers if the employer's negligence did not cause their injury, but may be able to receive compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Non-maritime workers may be entitled to workers' compensation in accordance with the respective state's statutes or in some cases may sue their employer or a third party whose negligence caused their injury.
What damages can an injured seaman worker recover?
Among others, injured maritime workers may be compensated for:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- The value of the lost room and board
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
How long does an injured maritime worker have to file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing a Jones Act claim, general maritime torts, and wrongful death under the Death on the High Seas Act is three years from the date of injury.
Who can sue for the wrongful death of a maritime worker?
Typically the same legal beneficiaries who can sue for wrongful death damages can file maritime wrongful death claim. It varies slightly, however, depending if the claim arises under the Death on High Seas Act, the Jones Act, general maritime law, or state law. Beneficiaries typically include the surviving spouse and children, parents, or other dependent relatives of the deceased.
Do most cases go to trial?
Although most cases are settled out of court, a successful, experienced attorney will prepare each case as if the case was going to trial. Defendants who know they are dealing with a plaintiff who means business is likelier to offer more compensation for damages.