Jones Act

jones-act-lawyersThe Jones Act was enacted by Congress in 1920 to address liability issues concerning injuries suffered by workers, crewmembers and seamen. It was created to establish a uniform body of law governing maritime personal injuries. The Jones Act is applicable to workers, officers, crewmembers and seamen on virtually every type of vessel on navigable waters. Generally, a seaman must have a connection to a single vessel or fleet of vessels to qualify under the Jones Act. The Jones Act was created to protect the rights of injured seamen, crewmembers and officers and to provide them with a basis for recovery for maritime personal injuries.

What Compensation is Available under the Jones Act?

Under the Jones Act, a seaman is able to recover compensation for lost wages, compensation for future economic loss, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and medical expenses. Additionally, employers are obligated to pay a Jones Act seaman maintenance and cure. Maintenance includes the daily allowance to cover the basic food and shelter that workers, officers, seamen or crewmembers would have received aboard the vessel while on duty. “Cure” includes medical expenses such as treatment, hospital expenses, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription medication and any other treatment necessary to ensure maximum medical improvement.

What is Unseaworthiness?

Under the Jones Act and maritime law, benefits for injuries or deaths are available if a vessel was found to be “unseaworthy.” A vessel is considered unseaworthy if the vessel or its crew were not reasonably fit for their intended use. In other words, the unseaworthiness of the vessel was the cause or contributed to the death or injury of a seaman. Claims of unseaworthiness are construed liberally by the Courts and can be relatively easy to prove.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit under the Jones Act?

The statute of limitations, which refers to the amount of time a seaman, crewmember or officer has to file a lawsuit, is three years. In other words, a seaman has three years from the date of injury or the date the injury was discovered to file a Jones Act lawsuit. It is imperative that you consult an attorney promptly after the accident to ensure that your claim will not be dismissed.

For more information regarding Jones Act and Maritime cases, please contact Pierce | Skrabanek. We provide free case evaluations and handle all cases on a contingency basis. We have obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients injured offshore. Our consistent results have led to our induction into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and we have been nominated as Rising Stars by Texas Monthly on a consistent basis.

I Have Never Filed a Lawsuit. How Does This Process Work?

The first step in this process is to call our law firm for a free case evaluation. We will analyze the facts of the case and the law that applies to your case. If we agree to accept your case, we will send you a contract and a medical authorization. These documents allow us to collect your medical records. We will review your medical records, including operative reports, nurse’s notes, doctor’s notes and laboratory results. We will also bring in medical experts to help evaluate your case if necessary.

Once we have confirmed your injuries, we will file a lawsuit against the Defendant(s). Once we have filed the lawsuit, “discovery” begins. Discovery is an exchange of information between the parties. This document exchange will include accident reports, corporate documents, medical records and other documents. During this process, depositions will be taken. Depositions are oral examinations conducted under oath when both parties are present. Depositions are taken with a court reporter who types up a transcript of the questions the lawyer asks and the witness answers. Sometimes, a videographer will be present to film the examination.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act was enacted by Congress in 1920 to address liability issues concerning injuries suffered by workers, crewmembers and seamen. It was created to establish a uniform body of law governing maritime personal injuries. The Jones Act is applicable to workers, officers, crewmembers and seamen on virtually every type of vessel on navigable waters. The Act protects the rights of injured seamen, crewmembers and officers and to provide them with a basis for recovery for maritime personal injuries. For more information, please visit our “Jones Act Information Center” page.

Does the Jones Act Apply to My Case?

The Jones Act applies to seamen. A seaman is considered a worker or crewmember that spends 30 percent or more of their work time on a vessel or group of vessels aboard navigable waters. For more information regarding seaman status, please visit our “Are you a seaman?” page.

What Compensation is Available under the Jones Act?

Under the Jones Act, a seaman is able to recover compensation for lost wages, compensation for future economic loss, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and medical expenses. Additionally, employers are obligated to pay a Jones Act seaman maintenance and cure. Maintenance includes the daily allowance to cover the basic food and shelter that workers, officers, seamen or crewmembers would have received aboard the vessel while on duty. “Cure” includes medical expenses such as treatment, hospital expenses, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription medication and any other treatment necessary to ensure maximum medical improvement. For more information about maintenance and cure, please visit our “maintenance and cure” page.

Am I Required to See Doctors That are Approved by the Company?

No. You can select the doctors that treat you. Sometimes, company doctors will encourage injured workers to continue work when they are not ready and proper testing has not been done. This can lead to misdiagnosis and further injuries.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit under the Jones Act?

The statute of limitations, which refers to the amount of time a seaman, crewmember or officer has to file a lawsuit, is three years. In other words, a seaman has three years from the date of injury or the date the injury was discovered to file a Jones Act lawsuit. It is imperative that you consult an attorney promptly after the accident to ensure that your claim will not be dismissed.

How Long Does the Litigation Process Take?

The length of time between filing your lawsuit and resolution can vary. The extent of the injury, the negligence of the company, the applicable law and the venue where the lawsuit is brought can affect how long this process takes. Typically, a maritime or offshore lawsuit can be resolved between 18 and 24 months. Some cases resolve more quickly.

How Much is My Maritime or Jones Act Case Worth?

This depends on several factors including the type of injury sustained, past and future lost earnings, future medical treatment, medical expenses and pain and suffering. We will also look into the negligence of the company and whether the vessel was unseaworthy. The first step to obtaining a potential value on your case is to contact one of our attorneys for a free case evaluation. We will analyze the facts of your case and the law to assess the best way to approach your case. For more information regarding our experience in offshore injury cases, please visit our case results page.