The Texas coast is lined with ports that help the local economy thrive. Texans have made a living working in the ports and on the water since first settling the state. Now, many years later, Texans continue to earn their livelihood on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, crew boats in inland waters, and ship channels weaving throughout Texas and the southeastern United States.
An unfortunate fact of life is that injuries are inherent in this line of work. Many related jobs involve dangerous equipment, volatile chemicals, and high-risk travel. If you have spent any amount of time working in the industry—or even just living in Texas—you know someone who has been injured on the job through no fault of his or her own.
If you have suffered an injury while on the job aboard a vessel, it is wise to consider your legal options to recover the compensation you deserve.
Who Can Bring a Claim for a Jones Act Injury?
Men and women injured while working on the vessels may be able to make a claim for their injuries and damages.
If a worker dies as a result of an injury while aboard a vessel, the worker’s family members may be able to bring a claim in the worker’s place and also assert a wrongful death claim for their loved one’s untimely passing.
The Jones Act is a specific body of federal law created to provide legal remedies to workers injured on vessels. Men and women working on vessels may be able to make a claim under the Jones Act. However, a Jones Act claimant must be classified as a seaman because the Jones Act only provides legal remedies to seamen who suffer injuries while on the job aboard a vessel.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for Jones Act Injuries?
The Jones Act allows a seaman to make a claim for negligence against his or her employer. In a Jones Act claim, if the seaman shows the employer’s negligence played a part in causing the seaman’s injury, the seaman may recover damages for personal injury, which include past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and lost earning capacity.
A seaman may also make a claim for unseaworthiness, which is separate from the Jones Act. When a seaman boards a vessel to perform work, it is the vessel owner’s duty to ensure the vessel is seaworthy. This includes the safety of the vessel itself and the crew employed to man the vessel. If an unseaworthy condition of a vessel injures a seaman, a seaman may recover personal injury damages. A seaman’s spouse and children may also recover loss of consortium damages for the effect of the seaman’s injury on their relationship. At this time, courts are split on whether punitive damages are available in unseaworthiness claims. The U.S. Fifth Circuit, which hears cases arising in Texas, does not allow the recovery of punitive damages in unseaworthiness claims.
A seaman may recover damages called maintenance and cure, regardless of who is at fault for causing the seaman’s injury. Maintenance includes wages until the end of the voyage and basic living expenses while the seaman is injured and unable to earn income. Cure means medical expenses for treatment of a seaman’s injuries sustained on the job. A seaman may also be able to recover punitive damages if an employer intentionally fails to pay maintenance and cure owed to a seaman.
Why is An Experienced Attorney Important to a Successful Jones Act Injury Claim?
The Jones Act and other related maritime and admiralty law are highly complex. There are many special deadlines and procedural requirements associated with these types of claims. An attorney who is experienced with maritime and admiralty law is essential to obtaining the full amount of damages an injured seaman is entitled to recover under the law.
the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant has a team of attorneys that is experienced in handling claims to help injured seamen and their families. Our attorneys were part of the legal team that secured a successful outcome in the claims of the nine seamen attacked by Somali pirates aboard the Maersk Alabama, led by Captain Phillips, in 2009. With the help of a talented legal team, the seamen brought claims for negligence under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness, punitive damages, and maintenance and cure against Maersk Lines Limited and Waterman Steamship Corporation.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury while on the job aboard a vessel, contact a board certified personal injury attorney today for a free consultation and evaluation of your potential claim.