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What Is the Jones Act?

  1. How Does the Jones Act Work?
  2. What Recoverable Damages Are Available Through a Jones Act Claim?
  3. Who Qualifies to Pursue Damages Under the Jones Act?
  4. Building a Compelling Case for Jones Act Compensation
  5. Discuss Your Offshore or Maritime Injuries With Our Team for Free Today

The Jones Act is a federal law that regulates maritime trade in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. It offers a way for injured seamen to pursue compensation from their employer after suffering injuries due to the negligence of their employer or their employer’s agents.  

Determining if you qualify to make a Jones Act claim is not always straightforward. If you have an injury or illness due to your employment on a seafaring vessel, our maritime accident lawyers can help you understand your options. 

Herschensohn Law represents seamen hurt on the job. Call (206) 588-4344 today for a free consultation with our team. 

How Does the Jones Act Work?

The Jones Act is part of a comprehensive maritime law: the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The provisions of the Jones act which apply to negligence are found at 46 U.S. Code § 30104. This law applies to seafaring vessels of all sizes and purposes and most who work on them. It applies equally to cruise ships, barges, fishing vessels, oil rigs, and other types of boats engaged in commerce. 

The goal of this section of the law is to ensure workers hurt on one of these vessels have an option for holding the responsible party accountable for negligence. An injured seaman can seek financial recovery after: 

  • Suffering injuries onboard a vessel
  • Developing a chronic injury caused by work
  • Developing an occupational illness

The Jones Act Requires Seamen to Prove Negligence 

To recover compensation in one of these cases, showing negligence occurred is necessary. Under the Jones Act, this usually focuses on failing to use reasonable care or maintain safe working conditions for workers. Examples of this include: 

  • Doing something a reasonable person would not do
  • Failing to do something a reasonable person would do
  • Not providing safe equipment or environments
  • Not providing proper training and/or oversight

The Jones Act has a low burden of proof for workers pursuing a case against their employer for injuries. According to the jury instructions for Jones Act cases, the employer or boat owner might be liable when: 

  • The employer or its agents negligence “played any part, no matter how slight,” in bringing about the injury or death.
  • Even if others also acted negligently, or there is another cause.

What Recoverable Damages Are Available Through a Jones Act Claim?

The Jones Act allows injured seamen to recover maintenance and cure, as well as non-economic losses. When discussing maritime and offshore injuries, maintenance and cure refer to the two primary types of compensation available: 

  • Maintenance: A small stipend meant to address their minimal expense associated with living expenses 
  • Cure: Emergency evacuation, medical care, and other related expenses that will be paid until the seaman reaches maximum medical improvement. 

Maritime and offshore workers can also pursue economic and non-economic damages under the Jones Act. These are the intangible losses experienced because of their injuries, including stress, frustration, physical pain, and emotional distress. 

Other Options for Pursuing Compensation After an Injury

There are other laws and programs in place that allow workers to pursue compensation or benefits after an on-the-job injury on a boat, in a harbor, or in dry dock. This includes the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Alaskan workers’ compensation system. 

Additionally, when a worker passes away on an offshore platform or vessel, their family could qualify for benefits under the Death on the High Seas Act

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Who Qualifies to Pursue Damages Under the Jones Act?

Often, injured seamen qualify to file a Jones Act claim and do not know it. Our attorneys help maritime workers identify all their options following an onboard injury, pursuing the compensation they need and deserve. You could qualify to file a Jones Act claim if: 

  • You spend more than 30 percent of your working time aboard a vessel. 
  • The vessel you were injured on was in navigation (meaning it was operational), on navigable waters, and afloat. 
  • You contribute to the work/operation of the vessel. 

It can be hard to understand your working hours, job role, and the vessel’s status. For example, here are a few examples of parties who may qualify for Jones Act claims and not know it: 

  • Someone who received a LHWCA settlement that did not formally adjudicate them of their seaman status
  • Someone who received voluntary, not formal, LHWCA payments
  • Someone who was injured by vessel negligence while working as a longshoreman
  • Twilight workers (These workers have received or are currently receiving benefits but can still file a claim. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.)
  • People who don’t know that they’re working on a vessel
  • People receiving benefits under the Alaskan workers’ compensation system (not everyone will qualify)

Our team will review your case and help you understand your options. 

Building a Compelling Case for Jones Act Compensation

The Jones Act and other maritime laws are very complex. It can be difficult to understand whether you qualify to file a claim and even more challenging to build a strong case to recover fair compensation. Your employer and the boat’s owner will have very experienced attorneys on their side, working to reduce the amount you receive every step of the way. You want experienced and knowledgeable lawyers fighting for you. 

At Herschensohn Law, our maritime injury lawyers know how these cases work inside and out. We file claims and navigate the process to document your injuries and pursue compensation available for every client. 

Under 46 U.S. Code § 30106, we only have up to three years to file your case under the Jones Act. However, building a strong case takes time. So, we suggest considering your legal options as soon as possible. 

Discuss Your Offshore or Maritime Injuries With Our Team for Free Today

Herschensohn Law provides free case consultations for those hurt working offshore or in maritime trades. We understand the potential paths to compensation for on-the-job injuries that occurred on a fishing boat, oil platform, cruise ship, or another similar vessel. 

Our service areas include Kent, Seattle, Auburn, Bellevue, Graham, Ellensburg, Puyallup, Covington, and more. We often represent clients hurt offshore, including those working in Alaska but living in Washington State. You can trust our team to fight for the compensation you deserve with no upfront fees. We work based on contingency. 

Contact us today by dialing (206) 588-4344

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