All maritime employers have a responsibility to offer their employees equipment that functions properly, a safe vessel, and proper training that will give them the best opportunity to perform their job safely. When an employer becomes negligent and does not fulfill these duties, an injured worker may be entitled to recover damages under what is known as the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is a federal law that allows injured workers to seek financial compensation for injuries that occurred while they were working. In many ways, the Jones Act is similar to the workers’ compensation program that is operated by the state governments. However, the Jones Act provides financial compensation and other benefits to seamen even when they are not working inside U.S. waters.
Anyone knows that working offshore can be extremely dangerous. The Jones Act was created as a means to understand and appreciate this fact, and any Jones Act employer can be responsible for any type of negligence or unseaworthiness of their boat, ship, or other vessels. A seaman who suffers an unfortunate injury may be entitled to a recovery for the following:
- current and future medical expenses
- loss of annual income(current, past, and future)
- pain and suffering
- mental strain
- bodily harm and damage
- inability to enjoy life
Offshore workers face several high risks of injury on the job. Offshore workers and seamen have a different life than those who are working onshore. Offshore workers and seamen spend a significant amount of time working for consecutive weeks and months at a time. They are away from their families and they are risking their lives on the open bodies of water.
The Jones Act and Unfortunate Accidents
When maritime workers are injured due to negligence or unseaworthiness of a vessel, they may be entitled to compensation.
Assault: As difficult as it may be to think about, workplace assaults can happen. Employers need to take the proper precautions against any type of workplace violence, such as ensuring the proper background checks are conducted and the proper screenings are conducted. A workplace assault can result in physical injuries that can lead to emotional and mental anguish, pain, and disfigurement. If the proper precautions are not taken, a victim of assault may be entitled to go forward with a Jones Act claim.
Incorrect Training: Improper or inadequate training can lead to a variety of serious accidents, including falls, trips, slips, etc. Other accidents can also occur when workers are not properly trained to use the machines and equipment. Employers have to give all crew members the proper occupational training and safety training.
Faulty equipment: There should not be any faulty or malfunctioning equipment aboard the ships, boats, or other vessels. This type of equipment can result in a variety of different injuries, including the following:
- broken bones
- leg injuries
- limb amputations
An employer who does not provide the proper equipment and cables can be held liable for injuries due to the failure to provide proper equipment.
Insufficient medical care: A seaman who is injured or suffers a serious illness while they are on a vessel should be entitled to receive adequate and proper medical treatment. Employers are responsible for providing high-quality healthcare services while their crew members and other workers are at sea. If an employer does not provide adequate medical care, the workers can move forward with their Jones Act lawsuit.
Handling Offshore Lawsuits
Properly handling an offshore injury lawsuit will require an attorney with the knowledge and experience in Jones Act act cases and maritime cases because there are various rules that will apply to these situations. Seamen that are injured while working will have the right to a jury trial in regards to a Jones Act lawsuit. Seeking litigation through a jury trial is not allowable under common law, so this depicts a big difference from common suits.
Due to the various differences from land-based cases, offshore lawsuits will need an attorney who has experience in litigating favorably on behalf of the worker who has been injured. This is very important before the proceedings begin because the legal professional will need to deliver helpful and accurate advice to the injured seamen. The Jones Act is a complex document that has seen multiple changes since it was first introduced in 1920. In the beginning, the Jones Act was created to fund the merchant marines.
Qualifying For A Jury Trial
What do you think the definition of a seaman is? In order to qualify for a jury trial, the injured worker needs to qualify for seaman status. Any worker who works more than 30 percent of the time on a navigable boat can be defined as a seaman. Courts will look at a variety of factors, such as if the injured worker qualifies as a seaman, if the vessel is in navigation, and the worker’s duties contributed to the function of the vessel. Those who are part of crew boats, towboats, tugboats, tankers, and more will be considered to be seamen.
The court will not be allowed to only look at the work the seaman was doing at the time the injury took place. The entire history of the seaman should be considered. However, there are some disagreements and disputes on whether or not the injured worker performs duties that can be calculated. This is another major reason why a legal professional with experience in maritime cases will be needed.
Being Awarded Compensation
Have you been injured while you were aboard a vessel? Will you be able to demonstrate a component of negligence on your employer’s part or the owner of the ship? You must be able to demonstrate an element of unseaworthiness or negligence in order to qualify for compensation under the Jones Act.
An injured seaman can also be awarded payment for medical treatment as well as money for living expenses, as long as the injury took place during the seaman’s employment. This payment is known as maintenance and cure. Maintenance and cure benefits can be paid even if there was no sign of negligence that caused the injury.
You will need the knowledge and experience of an attorney to protect all of your rights and assist you in receiving the compensation you are entitled to and deserve. With the knowledge obtained from previous cases, a legal professional can help victims represent their claims in the best possible way.