If you are a maritime worker, we don’t need to tell you that there are many hazards involved in doing your job. We probably don’t need to tell you either that many of the laws that protect employees when they are injured in other industries don’t pertain to you. What we can tell you, however, is that if you have been injured on the job, the Jones Act provides you with the ability to seek compensation from your employer through a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced Miami Jones Act lawyer can help you understand this process.
What Is the Jones Act?
Officially known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act was revised in 2006 and established a standard set of federal laws and regulations for U.S. waters and ports. Among these laws is the right of maritime workers to file personal injury lawsuits against their employers if the employer’s negligence contributed to the accident that resulted in their injury.
Some of the workplace hazards that present themselves to maritime workers and could result in injury and also give rise to a lawsuit against an employer include:
- Slip and fall or trip and fall injuries resulting from wet decks and cluttered walkways.
- Lifting injuries, including injuries to the legs, back, and knees.
- Head and neck injuries from being struck by or caught between shifting cargo.
- Injuries resulting from fire or chemical hazards on the ship, or as a result of poorly maintained vessels.
- Injuries arising from workplace violence, including physical assault by a co-worker.
- Injuries that result from poor training or failure to follow safety protocols aboard the vessel.
Who Is Covered by the Jones Act?
Maritime workers, also commonly referred to as seamen, who work on the waters or ports of Miami, Florida and contribute at least 30 percent of their time to that vessel are generally covered by the act, including those working in the following professions:
- Fisherman working full-time, part-time, or on an as-needed basis on the vessel.
- Cooks working aboard large ships that are either privately owned or operating commercially as cruise ships.
- Stewards working aboard commercial vessels.
- Deckhands, mates, captains, and engineers.
- Drillers on oil platforms, and others working in the cultivation of natural resources at sea.
- Bartenders working at ports or on the waters near Miami.
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Liability and Damages Available in a Jones Act Case
A personal injury lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court. Jones Act cases generally must be filed within three years of the date of the accident that caused the injury. The claim must do two things — establish who was liable for the accident that resulted in injury and show the expenses and impacts that were suffered as a result. There are several common forms of employer negligence in Jones Act cases, such as:
- Failure to provide proper safety training before allowing a seaman to perform on-the-job duties.
- Failure to perform regular maintenance on the ship.
- Failure to repair malfunctioning equipment and parts.
- Failure to provide workers with the proper safety gear as required by federal law.
- Failure to place warning signs in obvious locations near known hazards.
- Failure to supply no-skid surfaces on decks.
- Failure to provide a vessel that is seaworthy.
Damages refer to a payment made as compensation for physical harm. The Jones Act permits the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages, provided the injured worker can show that the employer’s negligence was a factor in the accident that caused their injuries. Economic damages refer to the out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of the injury, including:
- Maintenance and cure benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement. These benefits include medical expenses as well as room and board.
- Loss of wages due to missing work because of the injury or in order to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if the injury results in a permanent disability that prevents you from working in the future.
Non-economic damages are payment for the impact of the injury of your life. Some of the most common impacts that individuals seek to be compensated for in a Jones Act case are physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
How a Miami Jones Act Lawyer Can Help
In order to obtain compensation from your maritime employer through a Jones Act personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove liability as well as the expenses you have incurred and will likely incur in the future. You also must meet statutory deadlines and other court requirements. Many of the steps involved in these cases are extremely difficult without extensive legal training and experience in maritime claims. An experienced Miami Jones Act lawyer can provide a number of services focused on easing the burden on you and guiding you through the process to the compensation you deserve.