In 1920, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act. One of the most important sections of this law is The Jones Act.
A key component of The Jones Act introduced protections for seamen working on maritime vessels.
At The Maritime Injury Law Firm, we have 20 years of experience using The Jones Act as a tool in helping injured offshore workers receive justice throughout Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. We know that offshore work is not for the faint of heart, and injuries can be serious. But we’re here to help.
Who Is Covered by the Jones Act?
The Jones Act may cover your injury if you spend at least 30 percent of your time at work on a maritime vessel.
A vessel is defined as anything from a shipping boat to an oil rig. The vessel must operate in U.S. waters, which may range from the Puget Sound to the Hudson River to the mouth of the Mississippi River by New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Jones Act implements safety standards for these offshore workers, including:
- Safe operating environments
- Vessel maintenance standards
- Availability of medical care
- Presence of essential safety equipment like lifeboats
- Crew qualifications, training and licensing
- Compensation for employer negligence
In order for these protections to apply, you must be a permanent employee of the vessel, and you must contribute to the mission of the vessel. Therefore, harbor workers, boat guests and temporary workers do not typically fall under the jurisdiction of The Jones Act.
What Happens If There Is an Injury or Death?
If there is an injury or death involving someone covered under The Jones Act, an investigation must be performed.
This investigation should help determine if there was negligence involved. If no negligence is found, then the general maritime law will have pertinence. Under general maritime law, the employer must provide for the remainder of the voyage to the injured or ill seaman maintenance and cure, which includes:
- Transportation to and from medical services provider
- Payment of medical expenses
Unlike The Jones Act, the general maritime law is not fault-based; in other words, maintenance and cure must be provided regardless of who caused the injury or illness.
General maritime law is also broader in scope than The Jones Act, and may serve as the legal basis for injury claims by passengers and maritime workers that are not covered by The Jones Act.
If the injury or death occurred due to the negligence of the employer, then the injured party or the surviving family may have a valid claim against the employer under The Jones Act.
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages, past and future
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of quality of life
If you file a lawsuit under The Jones Act, you have the right to present your case to a jury at trial.
How to File a Claim under The Jones Act in Louisiana
If you are injured while working on a maritime vessel due to the negligence of your employer, boat owner, or fellow crew member, the most important thing you should do is to hire an experienced Louisiana Jones Act lawyer. Your lawyer can help you file a claim under The Jones Act to get you the compensation you deserve.
There are some other steps, too, that you should keep in mind after your injury:
- You should think about reporting your injury to the senior officer or your employer.
- It’s also a good idea to seek treatment from a qualified medical professional as soon as possible and document the visit.
- Do not talk to company officials or insurance adjusters and do not sign any statements without your maritime attorney present. (They may make an offer in an effort to minimize the incident, but it’s best to discuss it with your lawyer first.)