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What Can Be Considered Negligence Under the Jones Act?

| Jon Montagna |

Get just compensation for your injuries when working on the high seas.

The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marines Act of 1920, is a federal statute that protects shipboard employees and regulates merchant marine activities in U.S. waters. The Jones Act provides you with the right to compensation should someone else’s negligence cause you to get hurt while working onboard a ship, according to Nolo.

Shipboard Negligence

The Jones Act states that your employers must make your work environment reasonably safe. That means they must see that the all the equipment is well-maintained and hazards are kept to a minimum. Some of the dangers you might encounter as a crew member include:

  • Slippery decks
  • Lack of safety equipment
  • Broken or damaged structures
  • Lack of training
  • Inadequate protective gear

The Employer’s Responsibility

A fisherman employed full-time on a scallop boat took a nasty spill where the non-slip coating that covered the deck was worn away, sustaining a traumatic brain injury due to the fall. His lawyer sought and won damages from the boat owners, citing their negligence in failing to replace the missing safety coating.

Your burden of proof that negligence led to an injury is a light one under the Jones Act. As long as someone failed to resolve an unsafe shipboard situation, you’re likely to receive coverage for your losses.

Who Qualifies for Jones Act Coverage

To be eligible for damages under the Jones Act, you must spend at least 30 percent of your full-time employment with the maritime company onboard ship. A contractor employed to do a temporary repair job would not be covered by this statue, nor would a part-time worker. Additionally, you must contribute in some capacity to the running of the ship.

What Damages are Covered

An accident aboard a barge carrying a drilling rig left one worker dead as the crew attempted to make repairs. The rig, which was not properly secured, toppled over, crushing the victim. The family’s attorney sought and won damages for the decedent’s pain and suffering and for the family’s loss of his future earnings.

Given proof that another party was negligent, leading to your seaborne injury, you can seek reimbursement for applicable damages, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical costs
  • Follow-up therapy costs
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental/emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of future earning ability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The Lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden of Virginia Can Help

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a workplace injury at sea, we can help. We have experience with Jones Act negligence cases and will fight to recover the damages you are entitled to. Get in touch today to book a free initial consultation with a Jones Act attorney.


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