Jones Act: Seaman Rights

      The Jones Act was passed to cover anyone spending 30% or more of their work time on a vessel or a group of vessels where that vessel is under common ownership and in navigation. This includes workers aboard semisubmersible drilling rigs, drill ships, and other MODUs. The Jones Act provides a right to recovery as a result of work-related injuries.

Differences Between Jones Act and Other Worker Protection Laws

      Seamen do not have the right to bring a claim under the state workers compensation laws or common law negligence. The Jones Act was passed by Congress as a negligence-based claim. Under the Jones Act an injured Seaman can claim:

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental Anguish
  • Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity
  • Medical Care
  • Assisted Living Costs
  • For certain Past and Future Costs

Who Can File?

      The lawsuit may be filed by the injured Seaman or his or her surviving spouse or dependents. One can file a lawsuit against their employer if a fellow crew member’s negligence or the ship owner’s negligence caused the Seaman’s injury or death.

Types of Negligence

      The more common types of negligence involve:

  • Failure to provide proper training
  • Failure to provide adequate equipment
  • Failure to provide adequate assistance
  • Failure to provide proper instruction
  • Providing faulty equipment
  • Failure to warn of a dangerous condition
  • Injury caused by a fellow crew member

Assault from Another Crew Member

      In some cases the Jones Act can cover injuries caused by an assault from another crew member if particular conditions are met. Even if the injury occurred on the way to or from the vessel, an injury could be covered by the Jones Act if no living quarters are provided aboard the vessel and the Seaman must commute in order to perform his or her duties.

Where to File?

      Jones Act cases are a special area of law, which can allow suits to be brought in both state and federal court.  If you or a loved one may have a Jones Act case, it is best to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney.