The Jones Act is a federal law that has protected seamen, such as masters, captains, officers, deckhands, tankermen, or members of the crew, for more than a century. Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act allows seamen and their families to pursue compensation for injuries and death due to an accident caused by negligence on the part of their employer or another crewmember.
If you are a maritime worker who was injured at work, a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer at Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso can help you understand your rights under this law.
WHO QUALIFIES AS A SEAMAN IN JONES ACT CLAIMS?
To benefit from Jones Act protections, a maritime worker must meet several qualifications, including:
The worker is employed on a vessel (or fleet of vessels) in navigation.
When most of us think of a vessel, we imagine a fishing boat or a cargo ship. However, the definition of a vessel is much broader under maritime law. In general, any object that is floating, on navigable waters, and capable of moving is considered a vessel.
Seamen working on these types of vessels are frequently covered under Jones Act claims:
- Cruise ships
- Water taxis
- Riverboat casinos
- Crew boats
- Shrimp boats
- Fishing boats
- Drill Ships
- Supply Vessels
Other structures that may qualify as Jones Act vessels include:
- Oil rigs
- Drilling platforms
- Man-made islands
- Moorings and buoys
The worker contributes to the mission and purpose of the vessel (or fleet of vessels).
For the purposes of Jones Act coverage, a worker does not need to be essential to the vessel’s operation. Rather, he or she must simply contribute to the vessel’s mission or purpose in some capacity. For example, a cook on a fishing boat would likely be covered under the Jones Act, as his or her job contributes to the vessel’s purpose (catching fish).
Workers who are not generally considered seamen under the Jones Act include:
- Passengers on a vessel (with some exceptions)
- Certain government employees
The worker is more or less permanently assigned to the vessel (or fleet of vessels).
To qualify for Jones Act coverage, a worker must have a more or less permanent connection to the vessel. What does that mean? In Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347 (1995), the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that a worker may be considered more or less permanently assigned to a vessel if he or she spends 30 percent or more of his or her work time on that vessel.
So, a worker who spends most of his or her time working on a particular vessel, but occasionally works on other vessels in the same company’s fleet or in a land-based office, would likely still be considered more or less permanently assigned to that vessel.Section Close DIV
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ATTORNEYS
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INJURED
If you work on a vessel, your employer is responsible for providing you with proper training, safe and functioning equipment, a safe working environment. If your employer fails to do this and you are hurt because of it, you may have a claim under the Jones Act.
After a seaman is injured on a vessel, we recommend several steps:
- File a written report with your supervisor and employer. Be sure to include in the report all the people you were working with at the time of the incident.
- Document evidence. If you have a cellphone, take photos or video of the incident site. If you don’t have access to a cell phone or camera, be sure to take a mental picture of where and how the incident occurred. Even small details can be the difference in determining a vessel’s seaworthiness or another person’s negligence.
- Get legal help. Because bringing a Jones Act claim is complex and often challenging, it is important to retain legal advice from an experienced Louisiana Jones Act lawyer soon after a maritime injury.
Over $1 Billion Recovered For Our Injured Clients
Frequently Asked Questions About Jones Act Claims
It is against the law for your employer to fire you, demote you, or take any other adverse action against you in retaliation for filing a Jones Act claim. If your employer does take such action, you may have a separate claim against your employer for retaliatory discharge.
Injured seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Maintenance is a daily allowance to cover your living expenses while you are unable to work because of your injuries. Cure is coverage for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your injuries. Your employer is required to provide maintenance and cure benefits regardless of who was at fault for your injuries until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
If you are successful in your Jones Act claim, you may be able to recover economic damages, which are those that have a specific dollar value attached to them, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. You may also be able to recover noneconomic damages, which are more difficult to quantify and may include mental and physical pain and suffering.
GET HELP FROM A JONES ACT LAWYER IN LOUISIANA
The New Orleans Jones Act attorneys at Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso have over 40 years of experience handling maritime cases in Louisiana and all along the Gulf Coast. If you have been injured while working a maritime job, let us help you get the compensation you deserve from your employer so that you can get back to work and take care of your family in the process.
If you have any questions or you would like to speak with an attorney about a possible Jones Act claim, please contact us here.