The Jones Act – Explained

The Jones Act is a federal law that governs all the liabilities and responsibilities of maritime vessel operators and employers and provides legal remedies for injured worker. The Jones Act also regulates all maritime shipping, commerce, ship traffic, tariffs and laws of all shipping in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. The Jones Act further outlines the duties of the maritime employer, standard of care, basis for finding of negligence, doctrine of unseaworthiness and the recovery of damages (money) for injuries, losses and deaths for the injured ship, barge or vessel worker. When a maritime worker is injured, the Jones Act provides the legal structure for the daily wage (maintenance) and medical benefits (cure). The Jones Act provides a legal basis for the courts to govern injuries, fault, damages and other remedies under the law. Under the Jones Act, there are filing deadline or statute of limitations in which actions and lawsuits must be brought. A Jones act statute of limitation for filing a lawsuit or claim is three years from the date of the accident. In some cases however, another entity or third party may also be at fault and the filing deadline may be as short as one year.

Jones Act Lawsuit or Claim for Damages

A Jones Act claim or lawsuit is available to compensate the injured offshore and maritime workers when injured in the course and scope of their employment. The worker’s employment or duties must be related to navigation, operation or played a part of the ship’s mission or voyage. In a Jones Act injury case, the lawyer must look at the facts of the accident, duties of the maritime or offshore employer, condition of vessel or unseaworthiness of the vessel, condition of the equipment on the boat, barge or vessel. In order to prevail, the maritime attorney must prove that the vessel owner, co-employee operator or the injured workers employer’s fault or negligence was the cause or contributed to the accident and the resulting injuries. In cases involving a negligent third party, the injured worker may also have a 3rd party lawsuit along with a Jones Act lawsuit against the negligent third party, company, or corporation.

Due to the nature of being out at sea and the dangers that can occur so far away from a doctor or hospital or rescue, the Jones Act places a higher duty of care upon the employer (maritime employer) to provide a safe place to work. In fact with this higher standard of care, finding negligence on the maritime employer comes at a lower burden of proof and therefore an easier case to prove in court. Additionally, even if the injured worker is partially at fault, a maritime action or Jones Act claim can still be available to the injured seaman and not discounted for their contributory negligence.

To be a Jones act seaman, the worker must be classified as a member of the crew of the vessel, whether that vessel is a jackup rig, casino boat, barge, tugboat, cargo ship, tanker, fishing boats, trawler, seafood processing boat, towboat, semi-submersible, jack-up oil rig, supply or a crew boat. The injured seaman may even be classified as a Jones Act seaman, if he or she is not permanently assigned to one particular vessel, but rather to a many different vessels by his maritime employer. An offshore rig worker working on a offshore rig or stationary platform may not technically be a Jones Act seaman, but may still have a maritime injury claim or lawsuit under General Maritime laws available for their injuries whether on the platform, or crew boat or even during transportation by helicopter to and from the rig.

Jones Act Liability – Employer’s Duty to the Worker

Jones Act liability for an injured seaman may include cases where:

  • Employer failed to adequately train workers to do their job
  • Employer failed to supervise co-employers
  • Employer failed to provide safe or working equipment to safely do the job
  • Employer failed to provide a safe work place or environment
  • Employer failure to have properly avoid or navigate in rough waters
  • Failure to keep stairs and walkways free of tripping hazards and oily substances
  • Failing to provide a competent, well trained crew
  • Failure to provide safety masks, safety suits and supplemental air when working with toxic chemical & fumes
  • Failure to remove / dismiss dangerous or violent co-workers
  • Failure to do adequate background checks of co-workers
  • Requiring seamen to work on a dangerous and unseaworthy vessel with defective or broken machinery
  • Failure of ship owner or employer to have needed safety guards on winches and other equipment
  • Failure to employ those employees known to be careless or unsafe or a threat to others
  • Failure to adequately train winch and crane operators on the safe operation of winches, riggings and overhead cranes

Jones Act Lawyer – Free Case Review

If you have been injured on a boat, vessel, barge, ship, oil rig or offshore platform, then call a get a Free Confidential Case Review. Get a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer on your side. As stated above, an injury under the Jones Act must normally be brought within in 3 years, there are exceptions and certain notice requirements that require a lawsuit to be filed within 1 year. It is for these reasons, an injured worker should not wait to talk to an experienced Jones Act Attorney about their injury claim or lawsuit.

No Fees or Expenses Charged to Injured Worker, unless you Recover. Talk to a Maritime Injury Lawyer now. Call Toll Free 1-800-883-9858 or email us on our online injury form