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Maritime injuries: Understanding the Jones Act

Working on a vessel can be a dangerous profession. If an injury occurs, maritime workers may have to seek help through a different route than traditional workers’ compensation. The Jones Act creates such an avenue for maritime employees to seek compensation but you need to understand how the system works.

Who can sue under the Jones Act?

The Jones Act does not specifically state who is and is not eligible to sue. As a general rule of thumb, though, you must be working on a vessel and spend at least 30 percent of your time at sea. This could cover a wide range of positions, so you may want to consult an attorney after an injury to learn what rights you have and what you can seek.

Negligence must play a part in your injury, which means someone acted in a careless way or a way they reasonably should not have acted. This could include an employer not placing enough workers on the ship to perform duties safely or a vessel containing unsafe working conditions that should have been fixed or avoided. To file a claim, you will have to prove that another party’s negligence had a part in your injury.

Employees have a time limit on filing for compensation. You have a period of three years from the date of the injury to file. However, it is usually better to look into your options sooner rather than later before details fade from memory or evidence is lost.

What can be recovered?

Compensation under the Jones Act is meant to cover current and future effects of the injury. You may be able to receive compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Expenses related to the injury, such as counseling or travel to a medical facility
  • Lost present and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering (based on lasting effects on your life)

Seeking compensation can be a confusing process for maritime workers. Missing deadlines or trying to prove the details of the case on your own could lead to a denied claim. If you are suffering and need financial help with your recovery, consider talking to an attorney skilled in maritime law.

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