The Jones Act is a federal law that has protected seaman, such as masters, captains, officers, or members of the crew, for almost a century. Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act claims allow seamen and their families to pursue compensation for injuries and death due to an accident caused by the negligence of a vessel owner, captain or other member of a vessel’s crew or the unseaworthiness of a vessel.
Who Qualifies as a Seaman in Jones Act Claims?
In order to benefit from Jones Act protections, a maritime worker must meet several qualifications, including:
- The worker is employed on a vessel (or fleet of vessels) in navigation;
- The worker contributes to the mission and purpose of the vessel (or fleet of vessels); and,
- The worker is more or less permanently assigned to the vessel (or fleet of vessels).
What Is Considered a Vessel?
Seamen working on these types of vessels are frequently covered under Jones Act claims:
- Cruise ships
- Water taxis
- Tug boats
- Riverboat casinos
- Crew boats
- Shrimp boats
- Fishing boats
- Other types of commercial boat on the ocean and all intra-coastal lakes, rivers and canals.
Importantly, the Jones Act covers seaman who are well aware of the risks associated with their job.
What to Do If You’re Injured
If you work on a vessel, your employer is responsible for providing you with proper training, safe and functioning equipment, a safe working environment. If your employer fails to do this and you are hurt because of it, you may have a claim under the Jones Act.
After a seaman is injured on a vessel, we recommend several steps:
- File a written report with your supervisor and employer. Be sure to include in the report all the people you were working with at the time of the incident.
- Document evidence. If you have a cellphone, take photos or video of the incident site. If you don’t have access to a cell phone or camera, be sure to take a mental picture of where and how the incident occurred. Even small details can be the difference in determining a vessel’s seaworthiness or another person’s negligence.
- Get legal help. Because bringing a Jones Act claim is complex and often challenging, it is important to retain legal advice from an experienced Jones Act attorney soon after a maritime injury.
Get Help with Jones Act Claims
The Lambert Firm’s maritime attorneys have over 40 years of experience handling Jones Act cases all over the Gulf Coast. If you have been injured or on a maritime vessel, let us help you get the care and attention from your employer so that you can get back to work and take care of your family in the process.
If you have any questions or you would like to speak with an attorney about a possible Jones Act claims, please contact us here.