If you are an offshore worker, it is important to know your rights after being injured off the mainland.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, was introduced by Senator Wesley Jones. The act is a Federal statute that covers a broad range of subjects, including regulations regarding maritime commerce, as well as dealings of cabotage. Cabotage generally refers to the right to operate transport services within a particular area. The Act also limits foreign-flagged ships from carrying cargo between US mainland and noncontiguous parts of the US. The Jones Act piggybacks lightly off of legislation that was already in place for railroad workers and transportation companies and was modified to encompass sea transportation.

What and Who does the Jones Act cover in regards to injury claims made on the Sea?

The Jones Act covers many offshore situations that can result in injury. These include poorly maintained equipment, dangerous work methods, equipment failure, negligence on part of the employer, and improper training of the ship’s crew. In general, it will cover issues that may have outside influence on what happened, and were not a direct result of one’s own fault.

To have a claim fall under the Jones Act, one must be considered a “seaman”. What does being a seaman entail? In the Jones Act, it states only that one must just have the “Seaman” title. Therefore, case law is important to understand who are considered seamen. Some basic guidelines for figuring out who may be considered a seaman are if one is assigned to a vessel or fleet operating in navigable waters, and/or if one must perform job duties that advance a vessel’s mission and spends at least 30% of one’s time working onboard. If you have questions about whether you are covered under the Jones Act, contact a Maritime Lawyer today.

When and How to use the Jones Act?

The Jones Act may encompass a wide variety of injuries. Claims resulting from engineering issues to assault by a coworker can be grounds for use of the Jones Act if the injuries occurred at sea. The top 2 issues are usually Liability for Unseaworthy Vessels and Negligence and are discussed below.

Negligence can be seen in different cases. This differs from claims by most land-based companies, as workers compensation, as workers compensation allows one to recover a set amount of damages without examination of the faulty issue. This does not bode well for sea men, as they do not have a chance to prove negligence on the side of the employer. If negligence is seen, one can be awarded two types of damages, economic and non-economic.

Liability of Unseaworthy Vessels comes into play when issues of the ship is to blame. This can be seen with faulty ship parts, or other issues with the vessel that may cause harm. If this occurs, the “unseaworthiness” doctrine is enacted. This doctrine states that, as the owner of the vessel, one has the legal duty to ensure a safe, and properly equipped work environment that is being operated by a competent crew. If these requirements are not met, and an employee is injured, then there may be grounds for liability.

To help solidify your case, make sure to contact a Maritime or Jones Act Lawyer. The attorneys at Lapeze & Johns can help to make sure you are covered.

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About Keith Lapeze

Keith Lapeze co-founded Lapeze & Johns with the focus of delivering dependable legal services to individuals hurt in accidents caused by negligence. After graduating third in his class from Louisiana State University Law Center, Mr. Lapeze continued his calling through commercial, environmental, and tort litigation where he is admitted to practice in both Texas and Louisiana, the United States Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Read more about Keith Lapeze here.