Bringing a claim under the Jones Act

Frank S. Clowney III

California residents working in the maritime industry know their jobs can be risky and even dangerous at times. Many things can cause a maritime accident, and the results can be devastating to workers and their families.

An injured maritime worker could bring a claim under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that allows a maritime worker who sustains a personal injury in the course of their employment to bring a claim for damages.

Who is the claim brought against?

A claim under the Jones Act is based on negligence. It can be brought against a ship owner, captain, crew members or anyone believed to be responsible for the negligence.

As a maritime worker, your employer has a legal duty to provide you with a safe working environment. They must also maintain the working environment to make sure it stays in a reasonably safe condition.

Negligence occurs when your employer fails in this legal duty, and this causes an accident resulting in damages.

Examples of negligence

There are many things that could contribute to unsafe conditions, such as broken or malfunctioning equipment, improper training or inadequate equipment. Failing to manage or supervise employees can also be considered negligence.

For example, if you are assaulted by a fellow seaman and your employer knew about the situation and did not take steps to stop it, you might have a valid claim under the Jones Act.

Recovering damages

If you prove negligence under the Jones Act, you can receive the same type of damages as you would in any other personal injury case. These include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced or lost earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering.

Filing a claim under the Jones Act and successfully proving negligence can be challenging. Seamen injured while at work could benefit by speaking with an attorney experienced with maritime law.