WHEN SHOULD A PERSON CONSIDER HIRING JONES ACT LAWYERS?
This federal law, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, offers several protections to seamen who qualify for it. Working on a vessel is inherently dangerous, but if the vessel’s owner doesn’t maintain the ship or crew correctly, it’s even riskier. When a seaman sustains an injury while working on a ship or boat, negligence, at least in part, is often the cause. Personal injury attorneys familiar with this statute can help an injured seaman take advantage of its protections and secure a favorable settlement.
WHY ARE JONES ACT LAWYERS OFTEN NEEDED FOR MARITIME CASES?
Maritime injury cases are unique in the legal profession. Few occupations have access to additional protections vested directly through the federal government. Initially, maritime regulations were designed to encourage seagoing trade, but they have been altered considerably over time. This statute is one of those alterations and was created to protect sea commerce and the workers that make it happen.
The statute grants qualified seamen the ability to file an injury claim due to negligence or unseaworthiness against an employer or vessel owner. It doesn’t matter who is negligent at the time of the injury, whether it is the ship’s owner, captain or crew. A qualified seaman may file a claim against an employer or vessel owner regardless. It is the responsibility of the ship or boat owner to keep it maintained and staffed with competent crew. If there is any lapse in either area, the owner is acting in negligence.
Qualified seamen are also entitled to a trial by jury, which is usually not provided in other injury claims.
Only qualified seamen are entitled to these protections, however. A qualified seaman is one who spends at least 30 percent of their work hours on a navigating vessel. In court, defendants will typically contest a worker’s qualifications, so the victim’s attorney must be prepared for this tactic.
There are also multiple exceptions to this statute that give vessel owners more leeway when determining fault. This includes any injuries caused by public enemies, inherent dangers of the sea, a defect with carried cargo, or attempts to save lives or property.
Together, these stipulations make many maritime injury cases a challenge to handle. Only an attorney experienced in the field should be tasked to represent them.
CAN JONES ACT LAWYERS HELP WITH EVERY PART OF MY CASE?
Attorneys knowledgeable in this area can help with every part of the process, from naming the defendants to representing the case in court. This includes consulting with the victim to determine the best course of action, putting together a demand package, guiding the victim through deposition, and handling any settlement negotiations.
WHAT SHOULD I DO FIRST IF I RECEIVE AN INJURY AT SEA?
Seamen are entitled to “maintenance and cure” if they receive an injury while working on a vessel. This means that the ship’s owner must cover the injured worker’s room, board and basic expenses, along with providing them with any medications or medical devices needed to help them recover. If you suffer an injury while working at sea, make sure you receive these protections or document any negligence to do so. Also, make sure you keep detailed medical records.