A Houston Jones Act attorney fulfills a particular, but much-needed service to maritime workers. This federal statute, formally titled the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, grants several unique benefits to maritime workers who receive injuries while on the job. In order for workers to receive these protections, they must be considered a qualifying seaman; a point that is often up for dispute in these cases. Because maritime law cases typically include a number of special provisions, a lawyer specialized in the field is often needed to help put the case together.
WHO SHOULD SEEK OUT A HOUSTON JONES ACT ATTORNEY WHEN INJURED?
This federal law was created to standardize maritime commerce during a time when the U.S. was growing rapidly. Most of the statute concerns commerce practices, but a few provisions are made to protect maritime workers when they sustain an injury. These provisions have largely been preserved, so maritime workers can still benefit from them when hurt on the job.
Only qualified seamen may receive protection under the statute. A qualified seaman, as defined in prior case law, is a worker who spends at least 30 percent of their time working on a navigating vessel. This means most ship crews are eligible for protections under the statute. Because employers and vessel owners have an incentive to avoid injury suits under this provision, a seaman’s work history is often disputed during cases. An experienced lawyer will ensure this does not become a problem for the victim during an injury case.
WHAT PROTECTIONS DOES THE STATUTE PROVIDE TO INJURY VICTIMS?
The provision offers three benefits to injured seamen, and a Houston Jones Act attorney will ensure they are all considered. The primary benefit is the ability to sue a vessel owner or employer for negligence or ship unseaworthiness. This is an especially powerful benefit because it does not matter who was negligent when the injury occurred, as long as the negligence was a contributing factor to the victim’s injuries. Ship owners and operators are required to keep their vessels in excellent condition and staffed with competent crew. When vessel owners or employers violate these requirements, they are putting everyone onboard at risk. Workers are also entitled to a trial by jury, a unique provision among injury cases. These provisions place a lot of liabilities on the owner or operator when an injury occurs, so they are under pressure to provide a safe work environment for their employees.
Injured maritime workers must also receive maintenance and cure from an employer. Maintenance refers to the worker’s room, board and daily living expenses, while cure refers to any medical treatment that is required to help the worker recover. Maintenance and cure must be provided to the worker until they can be transferred to a medical facility or until the worker will no longer benefit from medical support. If a vessel owner or operator violates maintenance and cure, they will be liable for negligence.