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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.