The Jones Act, enacted in 1920, was created to protect seamen in America who suffered injuries or illnesses while working at sea. In fact, The Jones Act is called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and this act enables sailors who are eligible to recover any deserved damages from their employers. If proof can be shown that a captain on a ship or a coworker acted negligently and that negligence brought harm to someone else, that sailor is eligible to file a lawsuit against that person or the company.
The owners of some vessels, even if those vessels are not connected with the companies who are responsible for employing the sailors, can also have an offshore lawsuit or Jones Act lawsuit brought against them if the injury was a result of the unsafe condition of the vessel. Regardless of the injury that occurred or its severity, a sailor can be compensated for his/her medical expenses and sometimes living expenses under the principle of the Jones Act.
Who Can Be Eligible For Protection Under The Jones Act?
While many people may throw the words “seaman” and “sailor” around heedlessly, not everyone in Alabama who works on water or near water will not be eligible for protection under the Jones Act. While the Jones Act specifies that the act applies to seamen, there has not been a legal definition given for the term “seamen.” In order for an Alabama Jones Act attorney to determine who will qualify for the protections that have been established under the law, the attorney will look to prior cases to determine eligibility.
Seaman is generally used in federal court to indicate a person who is attached to a ship or a vessel of ships that are working in waters that are passable. There are no limitations placed on the types of waterways; any type of waterway that is used for international or domestic travel will qualify. Alabama has an abundance of rivers and waterways that are deep enough for trade.
The person in question in regards to the Jones Act lawsuit should also have an involvement with the purpose of the vessel. If Charles, a worker on one of the docks, is injured while finishing a paint job on one of the boats, he would not be eligible to receive protection under the Jones Act. On the other hand, if fisherman David is injured while the ship is in the Gulf Coast, he would qualify for protection under the Jones Act.
The job description of the individual must provide some sort of assistance and serve a purpose to the vessel. A member of a ship’s crew who is responsible for maintaining decks will be eligible for protection under the Jones Act just as the captain of the ship would qualify.
In order to qualify as a seaman, you need to spend a significant amount of time on a ship. A person who spends less than 30 percent of his/her time on the vessel will not be considered as a seaman under the Jones Act. Since many of the qualifications of a seaman are vague, it is important that an injured individual seek the assistance of a Jones Act attorney so clarity can be given.
How Can Negligence Be Proven?
Merchant seamen and merchant sailors are not subjected to the same rules and regulations that land workers are subjected to when it comes to worker’s compensation lawsuits. Under the Jones Act, maritime workers are given a chance to prove that someone was negligent and that damages should be recovered from the injuries.
When personal injury lawsuits are filed on the behalf of laborers on land, it is always important to take negligence into consideration. If someone is not following the proper safety protocol or takes a risk that was deemed unnecessary and those actions resulted in the injury to another person, the individual who was negligent can be sued. The same goes for negligence when offshore lawsuits are filed.
From time to time, it is not always the negligent action of a person that results in an injury or illness to another individual. Sometimes a ship can be the reason why someone is injured while working. Sometimes seamen are injured because of the poor condition of the vessel. The owner of the vessel or the organization who holds any interest in the vessel can also be sued if the vessel has any mechanical problems or has not received any repairs or the proper maintenance.
Why Do You Need A Jones Act Lawsuit Attorney?
It may not always be an easy task to find an attorney who specializes in cases involving the Jones Act. Jones Act cases can even be considered a specialization among the attorneys who have a focus in maritime law. You are going to need the right legal representation by an attorney who has the experience and skills to effectively negotiate. You are going to need an attorney who also has the passion and aggressiveness you are going to need if you have the intention to sue the shipowner or the employer.
Your attorney will need to prove that your injuries or illness was related to your work. Maintenance and cure is a right that is based under the Maritime Law. These doctrines can be compared to the worker’s compensation law for those who are working on land. These doctrines allow seamen and sailors to be compensated for the injuries or illnesses, but the behavior of the shipowner or the employer will not be taken into account.
As a result of not taking these actions into account, the money that can be received can be reduced. Compensation under the maintenance and cure doctrines will cover your medical bills until you have recovered medically or when you have returned to work. These types of compensation can be gained in addition to you filing a suit due to negligence.
If you or someone you love has been injured or contracted any type of illness while being at sea, we recommend that you reach out to a Jones Act attorney.