Understanding a Jones Act Claim
Unlike land-based employees, a seaman who gets hurt at work is not covered by typical Workers’ Compensation. Instead, these maritime workers are protected under the Jones Act, which is a federal law that allows an injured seaman to sue their employer for personal injury damages. Seamen who work on floating vessels are not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. While every state has Workers’ Compensation programs in place to protect workers in their jurisdictions, workers who operate on the open water are not covered by any state Workers’ Compensation protections.
Who Qualifies as a Seaman?
The term seaman applies to anyone who works on a boat or ship, such as a captain or crew member, or any other worker that spends a significant amount of work hours on a vessel. Because the Jones Act only applies to seamen, there are strict conditions that must be met for a worker to officially qualify as a seaman. If the worker spends a minimum of 30 percent of their work hours on a floating vessel, they are considered a part-time seaman and, as such, they are protected under the Jones Act.
How Does the Jones Act Differ from Other Protections?
Where a typical Workers’ Compensation case can be handled with paperwork through an employer, a Jones Act case will involve a lawsuit. The injured employee will have to prove negligence on the part of the employer, and that the demonstrated negligence played a role in causing the injury. Unlike other negligence cases, however, Jones Act rules maintain a very low bar for how much the employer’s negligence was a contributing factor for the injury. The Jones Act holds that any contribution of fault on the part of the employer, no matter how small, is enough to permit the employee to sue for damages.
Employer Requirements Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act requires that the employer provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work, and to maintain reasonably safe conditions. The employer is liable for the work conditions created by co-workers and other staff, such as a crew member who leaves a slippery floor behind after mopping without properly warning others of a slip and fall risk.
Under the Jones Act, the injured employee must sue in either state or federal court within three years of the accident to be eligible to collect damages, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, or lost earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering.
Cape May Maritime Injury Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Injured Seamen
If you are a seaman who was injured at work, the Cape May maritime injury lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. can help you recover damages to help pay for your medical bills, to make up for lost income, or to compensate you for your pain and suffering. Contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962 to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Cape May and Wildwood.