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.
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.
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