Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents people with Maritime injuries suffered in accidents that occur on open waters and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has collected a series of Jones Act accident FAQs related to the medical and legal aspects of an accident involving injured seaman, offshore workers, and other maritime workers. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
Jones Act Frequently Asked Questions
The job duties of maritime employees can be extremely hazardous when performing tasks on or near water. The Jones Act protects the rights of sailors, offshore workers and maritime workers involved in a severe maritime accident. By law, the employer is legally required to make “maintenance and cure” payments to the injured employee to relieve the financial burdens of their healing process or to adapt to life-altering changes involving job-related temporary or permanent disabilities.
The maritime accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have compiled a comprehensive list of the most frequently asked questions involving maritime personal injury cases and Jones Act accident lawsuits and posted the answers below. Many families use this information to determine how to take legal action for justice and to obtain the financial compensation they deserve for their injuries and damages.
What is the Jones Act?
Nearly 100 years ago, the federal government enacted the Jones Act that is also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The law provides compensation to qualifying sailors who have suffered injuries in accidents while on the job or those who developed an illness associated with their job-related tasks. The sailor's employer pays monetary compensation to the injured worker. The Act is based on general maritime rules and laws that secure the rights of qualifying seamen.
I'm not technically a Jones Act worker. Does the law still apply in my injury case?
Probably. You are likely covered under the far-reaching coverage under the general maritime laws that apply to injured workers on most vessels including cruise ships.
Does the Jones Act protect my legal rights if I am injured offshore?
Probably. If you were injured, hurt or became ill as a part of your offshore job, you likely have the right to file a claim for compensation.
Am I protected under the Jones Act?
To see if you qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, you must pass the three-point status factor test based on the vessel's assignment, connection, and contribution. This test can identify your job status based on qualifications. Next, you will need to show how your injuries qualify you as defined under the provisions of the Jones Act. Finally, you will need to prove that the careless or negligent actions of the vessel owner resulted in your damages.
How do I know I was working on a Jones Act vessel when injured?
Identifying a Jones Act vessel can be difficult to establish. However, most cruise ships, cargo ships, and tugboats are usually Jones Act vessels, which if you were injured or suffered an illness while working on these vessels, you are likely qualified under the Jones Act. According to the law, additional qualifying vessels under the Jones Act include dredges, barges, tugboats, cargo ships, floating platforms, and fishing trawlers. A brief and incomplete list of some employees two are covered under the Jones Act include:
- Cargo ship merchant seamen
- Tugboats deckhands
- Dredge deckhands
- Marine construction barge pile drivers
- Tank barge tanker men
- Vessel-based divers
Currently, there are over 40,000 vessels that operate on navigable waters in the United States performing domestic trade transport by moving more than 850 million tons of cargo annually. The Jones Act was initiated to protect the nation's interests against the need to outsource transportation of cargo to foreign vessels while relieving heavy congestion on US railways and already crowded American roads.
My attorney says I should file an unseaworthiness claim. What is that?
Unseaworthiness claims are founded on circumstances where the injured worker suffered injuries or harm on the vessel because a dangerous condition existed. Basically, an unseaworthiness claim is successfully resolved by the proven fact that at the time of the accident, the employer knew or should have known that the vessel was not safe or seaworthy.
However, your case could be based on both an unseaworthiness claim and a Jones Act negligence claim involving the injury you sustained. Your attorney might identify the unseaworthiness of the vessel and your employer's negligence under the Jones Act to prove your case for monetary compensation.
Will I need to prove that my employer was negligent or reckless?
Yes. However, this can be difficult. Because of legal challenges, many injured seaman, offshore workers, and maritime workers will hire personal injury attorney specializes in maritime law an offshore injury cases. You, or your lawyer, will need to prove that your employer was negligent, and their actions directly caused your injuries. Negligence under the Jones Act was defined in a case that set precedents (Tiller V. Atlantic Coastline R. Co.) as:
“Negligence is the failure to do what a reasonable and prudent person would ordinarily do under the circumstances or doing what a person under the circumstances would not have done.
My employer's claims investigator wants me to give a recorded statement. Should I?
Absolutely not. If the investigator working for your employer asks you for a sworn recorded statement, you should seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney who specializes in maritime law. Your lawyer will advise you to refuse the request to make a statement without legal representation. If you avoid giving testimony to the investigator, the insurance company or your employer, you will prevent them from twisting your words and using your recorded statement against you when you are ready to prove your case for financial compensation.
Can I wait to file a claim?
Not really. The Jones Act follows a strict statute of limitations were all necessary paperwork, and documentation must be filed within three years after you were injured. However, an attorney working on your behalf might be able to identify certain unique circumstances involved in your case that might extend the time limit to file your claim as defined by the court system. Technically, you are required to report your injury to your employer within the first 30 days after you were injured or you could forfeit your rights to obtain compensation forever.
Is their only one type of Jones Act claim I could file?
No. The Jones Act provides benefits for numerous types of injuries where the employer must pay financial compensation to the injured seaman. To qualify for any one of these claims, your attorney must prove the recklessness, carelessness or negligent action of your employer directly resulted in your injuries.
I believe I am partly to blame for my injuries. Am I still entitled to compensation?
Yes. However, the compensation you receive will be reduced by a certain percentage determined by the jury or court. As an example, if the court decides you were 50% responsible for your injuries and your employer was 50% at fault, you will receive half the amount of the jury trial award. If the court decides you were 100% at fault, you lose your right to obtain financial compensation.
How much is my claim worth under the Jones Act?
Determining the actual value of your claim can be difficult to calculate. However, our maritime accident injury attorneys fight aggressively on behalf of our clients to ensure they receive adequate monetary recovery to pay for hospitalization expenses, medical costs, funds for rehabilitation and therapy, daily living expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and attorneys' fees. In some cases where the employer's actions were egregious, the court system may allow the jury to award the plaintiff punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages they award.
I need help with my financial burdens now. How long will it take to resolve my case?
Our legal team is compassionate about your need for quick settlement. We work to ensure that your claim is filed in the appropriate courthouse quickly, so we can begin building your case by gathering evidence, speaking eyewitnesses, and reviewing your medical records with experts. We strive to resolve our cases quickly by fighting aggressively on behalf of our clients to ensure they receive all the financial compensation and benefits they deserve as soon as possible.
Typically, you will receive medical benefits immediately through your employer's insurance carrier. However, if you do not, our lawyers will ensure you receive the medical care you deserve now. We have access to qualified doctors who will postpone payment for their services until after your case has been resolved through a negotiated settlement or the court system.
You say I am entitled to “maintenance and cure” benefits. What does that mean?
“Maintenance” refers to the treatment you received after you were injured, and “cure” relates to the amount of financial compensation you are entitled to receive. The amount of compensation we seek is based on your past, current and future medical needs and to pay for other damages including the loss of enjoying your past lifestyle before you were injured. Under the Jones Act, your employer, if found at fault for your injuries, is required to pay maintenance and cure compensation until you are fit to return to your previous employment, if ever.
Where would I file my case?
Determining where to file your case is not always an easy answer. An attorney working on your behalf can help you decide the ideal court to file your claim. The law firm will help you identify your unique circumstances and specific facts associated with your injuries or acquired illness and the location where your employer's company is based.
I believe my injuries are covered under the Jones Act. What do I do now?
If you suffered an injury or developed an illness from working on a vessel on navigable waters, you are legally entitled to file legal action against your employer. Your case is likely very complicated and will require the skills of an attorney with experience in resolving maritime cases.
Our law firm provides every potential client a no-obligation, initial case consultation at no charge to them. Call our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule an appointment. Let our team of attorneys discuss your case, listen to your complaints, and provide numerous legal options on how to ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.
I like to hire your law firm, but I do not have much money. Are there other options?
The maritime injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can still help you resolve your claim for compensation. Our law firm accepts every maritime and offshore injury claim for compensation through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement will postpone payment of your legal services until after we have successfully resolved your case through a jury trial award or negotiated an out of court settlement on your behalf. Additionally, we provide every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf, you owe us nothing.
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