Injured while working at sea? You have two ways to get compensation.

Injured while working at sea? You have two ways to get compensation.

Alabama has a thriving shipyard industry along the Gulf Coast that employs more than 5,000 people in port and on the ocean. The federal government long ago recognized the dangers these people face when working at sea, so it established the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Often referred to as the Jones Act, it ensures that workers are fairly compensated for injuries and their survivors for fatalities.

Due to the inherently hazardous nature of their occupations, the Jones Act allows greater protections than land-based workers’ compensation statutes. For example, the Jones Act opens the door for workers to file negligence claims against employers who unnecessarily place them in harm’s way.

Jones Act

Qualifying as a seaman

In order to qualify for benefits under the act, you must prove you are a seaman. Federal courts generally require that you spend a minimum of 30 percent of your time on a ship or seafaring vessel.

Employer negligence

It is unfair that your health has been jeopardized because of another’s failure to maintain a reasonably safe work environment. If you have made a claim for lost earnings due to an injury and someone else was negligent, you have a second way to seek compensation for your losses.

The dangers you faced may not be isolated and could pose future risks to other seamen as well. A lawsuit can help you get the compensation you deserve, and it may save others from a similar fate.

Under the Jones Act, a lawsuit may be appropriate if your employer was negligent. Your employer doesn’t have to be directly responsible, however. It can be held accountable for failing to maintain a safe workplace. Examples include:

  • Unsafe work methods
  • Violence among crew members
  • Improper Equipment
  • Slippery decks
  • Poor training
  • Faulty equipment
  • Negligence by other workers
  • Vessel not seaworthy

Maritime Civil Lawsuits

The normal workers’ compensation process generally allows injured workers medical benefits and a portion of their lost wages. However, the Jones Act allows injured employees to also file civil lawsuits because of the difficulty of agencies like OSHA to enforce safety regulations at sea.

If your employer failed to maintain safe standards and protocols, talk to a lawyer. There is only a three-year window for filing a lawsuit, and you may be awarded compensation for things such as:

  • Health care costs
  • Projected health care costs
  • Pain and sufferings
  • Reduced ability to earn
  • Emotional stress

Workers’ compensation under the Jones Act is considered a niche area and not many attorneys handle these types of cases on a regular basis. If you or a loved one has suffered a loss while working at sea, it’s important that you have an experienced maritime attorney from the law firm of Clay, Massey & Associates, on your side.

2017-03-25T19:38:24-05:00January 24th, 2017|Maritime Accidents|