Why May A Maritime Lawsuit Be Required For Injured Seamen?

by Terry Bryant

A maritime lawsuit may be required when a seaman is hurt while working on a navigating vessel, especially because these workers do not typically have access to state injury compensation programs. In fact, a negligence claim against an employer or vessel owner may be the only recourse an injured worker has, but it can be an effective method for recovering fair restitution. That’s because injured workers often have additional protections available to them under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act allows qualified seamen to file a maritime injury lawsuit against an employer or vessel owner and lowers the burden of proof that victims have to shoulder. This means that a hurt worker does not have to provide the same level of evidence to demonstrate liability. So, for example, even a surface slicked with oil can create liability for the vessel owner. And of course, things like poor maintenance, inadequate crew training, and reduced staffing can all be grounds for major liability issues.

To be qualified for Jones Act protection, a seaman must spend at least 30 percent of their working time in the service of a navigating vessel or fleet. What defines a navigating vessel is occasionally up for interpretation, so defendants will likely contest this part of the claim. With expert legal assistance, though, such tactics will typically not be enough to undermine an injured worker’s claim.