What You Need to Know About Jones Act Claims

The Jones Act provides seamen with the right to sue their employers for personal injuries on the job. Given that seamen are not allowed to file for workers’ compensation benefits following an injury, the Jones Act provides a recourse which can be followed by all seamen injured while on the job. If you’ve been involved in an accident, it might be time to work with a maritime attorney.

Understanding the Jones Act

The Jones Act is pretty straightforward. An employer must provide a reasonably safe work environment. Appropriate precautions and care must be taken to ensure the safety of workers. Under this act, employers are directly liable for any negligence – even the negligence of their employees.

Liability is the major factor in a claim, and an employer will be liable for the following:

  • Improperly maintained or damaged equipment leading to injury.
  • Unsafe work procedures.
  • Injuries occurring on the deck, from oil to grease.
  • Assault or negligence of co-workers.
  • Not supplying proper safety equipment.

The Jones Act protects employees to the utmost degree, and there are many scenarios in which the act will be in the favor of the employee.

Filing a Jones Act Claim

Claims must be filed at either the state or federal level. If you have been injured while working on a vessel, you will need to file your claim within 3 years of the injury occurring. If you do not file within this timespan, you will forfeit your right to make a claim.

As part of the claim process, you need to ensure that you follow the correct procedures. You will need to follow these steps:

  1. Within 7 days of the injury occurring, you must report the injury. Ideally, you will report the injury immediately to the captain or supervisor. The sooner you can report the injury, the better.
  2. Make a statement. You will want to file an accident report with the employer. You may also be asked for a statement to be made to the insurer.
  3. The next step is to get off of the ship at the next port and seek medical treatment. Employers must ensure that you are properly cared for even if you are in open waters. You will also want to continue seeking treatment and keep documentation of everything your doctor says. If you miss an appointment, this may harm your case.

The next logical step is to decide if you need a lawyer. Typically, you will want to hire a lawyer that deals with Jones Act claims to help you through the claim and settlement process. If a settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit will be imminent and generally occurs with 14 – 16 months. Contact Waitz & Downer today for expert help through the process, or if you have any questions about Jones Act claims.