Although the vast majority of workers in the United States are entitled to workers' compensation benefits after suffering on-the-job injuries, seamen are not. They must pursue compensation for injury-related expenses under the Jones Act.
Proving Negligence in a Jones Act Case
The Jones Act requires employers to provide their seamen with reasonably safe working conditions. They must also take care to maintain and keep the vessels where the seamen work in a reasonably safe condition.
Examples of unsafe conditions that would qualify for compensation under the Jones Act include:
- Tripping on grease or oil spilled on the deck
- Not having the necessary equipment to safely perform your work
- Being injured because you’ve received improper training in how to operate equipment safely
- Suffering harm due to the negligence of your coworkers
- Being assaulted by a coworker
Jones Act cases are different from workers' compensation claims because you must prove negligence. In a worker's compensation case, you can still receive full benefits even if your own carelessness caused your injury.
Claims under the Jones Act are considered part of personal injury law, but the burden of proof is much lower in this case. In an ordinary personal injury claim, you must prove that the defendant's negligence is the primary cause of your injury. In a Jones Act case, you only need to prove that the defendant's negligence contributed to your injury. Even contributing one percent to your injury is enough to hold your employer responsible for damages under the Jones Act.
Damages Available in a Jones Act Case
The damages you can receive in this type of case are the same as any other personal injury claim.
- Medical expenses, including future medical care related to a disability caused by your on-the-job injury
- Lost wages, including loss of future earning potential related to a disability caused by your on-the-job injury
- Pain and suffering
Seeking Legal Representation
A Jones Act claim must be filed within three years of the date of your injury. You can file your claim in either state or federal court, but the assistance of an experienced attorney is recommended due to the complexity of this aspect of maritime law. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Grady J. Flattmann, Attorneys at Law, LLC.