The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, frequently called the Jones Act, establishes rights for seafarers and protects those injured in workplace accidents.
It is like a worker’s compensation claim for seafarers, except a Jones Act negligence claim provides you a wider array of recovery options following your injury if you prove your employer was at fault.
To recover under the Jones Act, you must first prove that you were a “seaman.”
To prove seaman status, you must show:
- You had a connection to a vessel (or an identifiable group of vessels) in navigation;
- The duration and nature of your connection to the vessel was substantial enough to regularly expose you to the sea’s perils; and
- The capacity to which you were employed, or the duties performed, contributed to the vessel’s regular operation or to accomplishing its mission.
“In navigation” means voyaging, at anchor, berthed, or at dockside ready for voyage. A “substantial connection” to a vessel means it must be more than merely sporadic, temporary, or incidental, and you must be regularly exposed to the special hazards and disadvantages of a seaman’s work.
The Jones Act provides these rights to seamen:
- The right to a reasonably safe work environment
- The right to additional compensation if the vessel or crew is negligent
- A “featherweight” causation standard in negligence
- Vicarious liability for malpractice of employer-provided medical providers
- The right to file a civil lawsuit
- The right to maintenance and cure
- Punitive damages for willful denial of maintenance and cure
You need an experienced maritime trial attorney to pursue your Jones Act remedies. There are also special rules pertaining to the time limit, which is three years, to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act. Many of these rights are powerful tools to get you compensation after you have suffered a severe injury, but the special rules are hard to navigate for a regular lawyer. The maritime lawyers at Mase Mebane Seitz know how to pursue these claims and will get you the maximum compensation.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured working on board a vessel, you may have a claim for unseaworthiness against the shipowner.
General maritime law requires shipowners provide seaworthy vessels to their crew. If the shipowner breaches this duty, they may be liable for your injuries and damages.
To be seaworthy, a vessel must be:
- Reasonably fit for its intended use
- Equipped with the right gear, equipment, and appurtenances
- Staffed with a competent crew
- Reasonably safe to work and live on
If a vessel does not provide these things, it could be deemed unseaworthy. Unseaworthiness claims may result from:
- Unsafe methods of work
- Poorly trained or staffed crew
- Defective equipment
- Poor maintenance
- Equipment failures
- Dangerous conditions on board
Unlike a negligence claim, a claim for unseaworthiness is based in “strict liability.” Strict liability means that if your injury was caused by an unseaworthy condition on board the vessel, you may be able to recover against the shipowner even if it was not negligent. You need an experienced crew member attorney to pursue your potential unseaworthiness claim. Our attorneys in Miami, Florida, have years of experience handling seafarer unseaworthiness claims and are ready to help you.
Similar to land-based personal injury law, the factual scenarios that can give rise to a negligence or unseaworthiness claim are virtually limitless. The creative, experienced, and aggressive maritime trial lawyers at Mase Mebane Seitz in Miami, Florida, will help you recover for injuries that occurred in the course of maritime employment, or you will not pay.Back to Crewmember Accidents