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4 Situations Involving Maritime Injuries: Can You Seek Compensation Under the Jones Act?

Workers who are injured on the job working on a ship, oil rig, or other vessel, have the right to sue for damages under the Jones Act. People who are injured in these circumstances, however, can have a hard time figuring out if the law applies to them. This article offers insight.

Many plaintiffs who look for a maritime lawyer tend to be unsure that the Jones Act really does cover the accident or injury that they need to seek justice for. The way the law works can be confusing. A little clarity can help when you need to decide whether the Jones Act applies to you. What follow are examples of such injuries, and explanations that help you see if the Jones Act applies, and if a maritime lawyer might be able to help you.

When your injury occurs on land, out of the water

Under the Jones Act, you are able to pursue compensation for an injury you sustain while on land if it can be established that you are a seaman as stated in the Jones Act. In general, this would mean that you would need to be permanently employed on a vessel or fleet of vessels operated by an employer, and spend at least 30 percent of your working hours on them. If you do qualify as a Jones Act seaman, injuries sustained while on land could qualify for an injury claim under the act. For example, if you were in a company car being driven to a port to get on a ship for work, and the car was to meet with an accident, you could file for damages under the Jones Act.

When your injury occurs overseas

If you’re an American citizen, and you’re injured while working internationally on a ship, you may be able to file a Jones Act claim in America. The geographic location where you sustain your injury doesn’t dictate your ability to file under the Jones Act. As long as your employer is subject to United States jurisdiction, you should be able to go ahead. Your employer is generally considered to be under jurisdiction if they do considerable business in the US.

When your injury occurs on the job as you perform commercial diving

Commercial divers can be considered seamen under the Jones Act in certain circumstances. There are certain conditions that such divers need to meet. As a commercial diver, you are entitled to sue under the Jones Act for damages for injuries if:

  • Your diving job is part of what makes it possible for your commercial vessel to operate.
  • Your relationship with the vessel is substantial in both the contribution that you make, and the permanence of your employment on it. This means that if you’re a freelance diver, you may have a problem qualifying under the Jones Act.

Do injuries sustained on an offshore oil rig qualify?

Many people in Louisiana work well-paying jobs on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. These jobs, however, can be risky. Everything from exposure to toxic hydrogen sulfide gas to poor training, explosions, and falling objects, can cause worker injuries. All these eventualities are covered under the Jones Act. Injured oil rig workers are able to sue their employer for negligence, for offering workers inadequate training, and so on.

Maritime laws can be complex. If you’ve been injured in connection with a job that consistently involves work on a waterborne vessel, it’s important to get in touch with a maritime lawyer who is able to help you successfully navigate your legal situation and obtain compensation for you.

  1. What is maritime law, and how does it apply to personal injury cases?
    • Answer: Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs legal disputes and activities that occur on navigable waters. It applies to personal injury cases involving accidents or injuries that occur on ships, boats, offshore platforms, or other maritime vessels.
  2. What are common types of personal injury cases covered by maritime law?
    • Answer: Common personal injury cases covered by maritime law include accidents aboard ships or vessels, offshore oil rig accidents, cruise ship injuries, maritime workers’ injuries (Jones Act claims), longshore and harbor worker injuries, and recreational boating accidents.
  3. How does the Jones Act protect maritime workers who are injured on the job?
    • Answer: The Jones Act is a federal law that provides protections and remedies for maritime workers who are injured or become ill while working aboard vessels in navigable waters. It allows eligible maritime workers to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  4. What are the steps to take if injured in a maritime accident?
    • Answer: If injured in a maritime accident, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately, report the accident to the appropriate authorities, gather evidence (such as photographs and witness statements), and consult with an experienced maritime personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights and options.
  5. What compensation can I seek for a maritime personal injury case?
    • Answer: Compensation for a maritime personal injury case may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, loss of earning capacity, and other economic and non-economic damages depending on the circumstances of the accident.
  6. How does comparative negligence apply to maritime personal injury cases?
    • Answer: Comparative negligence may apply to maritime personal injury cases, meaning that the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover may be reduced if they are found partially at fault for the accident. Understanding how comparative negligence may impact your case is essential when pursuing a claim.
  7. What are the statute of limitations for filing a maritime personal injury claim?
    • Answer: The statute of limitations for filing a maritime personal injury claim can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction where the claim is being filed. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure compliance with applicable deadlines.
  8. Can I file a lawsuit for a maritime injury if I’m not a U.S. citizen or resident?
    • Answer: Yes, non-U.S. citizens or residents who are injured in maritime accidents may still have legal rights and options to pursue compensation under maritime law. However, the specific legal procedures and remedies available may vary, so consulting with an experienced maritime attorney is advisable.
  9. What role does maritime insurance play in personal injury cases?
    • Answer: Maritime insurance can play a significant role in personal injury cases by providing coverage for damages resulting from maritime accidents, including bodily injury, property damage, pollution liability, and other related claims. Understanding the insurance coverage available is essential for maximizing recovery in a maritime personal injury case.
  10. How can a maritime personal injury attorney help me with my case?
    • Answer: A maritime personal injury attorney can provide invaluable assistance by investigating the circumstances of the accident, assessing liability, navigating complex maritime laws and regulations, negotiating with insurance companies, and advocating for your rights to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.