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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Are you an injured employee on Illinois waterways and want to file for benefits as a seaman under the Jones Act? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury lawyers are determined to hold responsible parties accountable for their Jones Act negligence and can work on your behalf.

Our firm will investigate and resolve your case and pursue the most advantageous avenue to your situation to ensure a positive outcome without any upfront cost.

Contact us at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to begin an attorney-client relationship. Let’s discuss your case and legal options to seek compensation.

Like all our bodily harm cases, each Chicago, Illinois Jones Act lawyer handles general maritime law cases on a contingency fee basis. There is no legal fee charged unless a client receives a financial recovery.

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What is the Jones Act of 1920 (The American Merchant Marine Act of 1920)?

Injuries among crew members and merchant mariners were so prevalent in the early 20th century that Congress established the Jones Act, officially titled the American Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

The Merchant Marine Act is a special federal statute passed to assist seamen seeking workers’ compensation benefits for their work-related injuries through their maritime employers.

Although the general maritime legislation was initially intended to protect merchant marines, now the Jones Act covers a broad spectrum of injured seamen who work on ships and other vessels on navigable waterways, including seas, lakes, rivers, or channels.

Most Jones Act cases originate from maritime accidents on the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan in Illinois. Merchants Marine Act lawsuits are typically resolved in the federal courts, not in the local justice system.

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The Jones Act and What It Covers

The Jones Act requires owners of commercial watercraft to provide well-maintained and safe vessels for their workers. Every part of the vessel must be maintained and seaworthy, meaning that the boat or sea vessel is free from defects and is in proper working order.

Workers whose work-related Jones Act claims will likely pay benefits to an injured seaman under the Merchants Marine Act. The Jones Act applies to any injury in navigable waters involving:

  • Merchant marines
  • Harbor workers
  • Seamen
  • Boat officer
  • Barge workers
  • Tugboat workers
  • River workers
  • Cooks
  • Technicians
  • Cargo ship workers
  • Pilots
  • Offshore platform workers

Maritime work is considered one of the more dangerous job categories, including commercial fishing and oil rig work involving water travel.

In 2018, two out of every hundred injured workers in the maritime industry claimed damages. Many of these seaman’s injuries were the result of employer negligence. The weather hazards while out on the water add danger to already often physically demanding jobs.

Since United States seamen can be classified under several types of jobs, it is difficult to gauge the extent of physical and psychological injuries and fatalities related to those who work aboard or with water vessels.

Hazards in the Maritime Sector

Working in the marine sector can be hazardous. There are many potential dangers that workers can face, including:

  • Falls from height: Workers in the marine sector often need to work on vessels raised and lowered by cranes, resulting in falls from height and severe injuries.
  • Working in confined spaces: Many vessels have limited space, creating several dangers for workers, including the risk of asphyxiation and being crushed.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials: Workers in the marine sector can be exposed to various dangerous materials, including oils and fuels, leading to skin irritations, respiratory problems, and other health issues.
  • Working in extreme weather conditions: Workers in the marine sector often need to work outside in different weather conditions, including working in very hot or cold temperatures and exposure to high winds and waves.
  • Lifting heavy objects: Workers in the marine sector often need to lift heavy objects, leading to strains and injuries requiring medical treatment.

By understanding the potential hazards that workers in the marine sector can face, employers can take steps to mitigate the risks and create a safer working environment.

Causes of Maritime Accidents

The common causes of maritime accidents may include:

  • Lack of regulation in the shipping industry: Another cause of maritime crashes is the lack of regulations in the shipping industry. There are no federal regulations governing the inspection of ships, so there is no guarantee that all ships are safe.
  • Few penalties for shipping companies: There are few penalties for shipping companies that violate safety regulations leading to unsafe conditions on board ships, which can cause maritime collisions.
  • Human error is a leading cause of maritime crashes. Poor decision-making, fatigue, and intoxication contribute to maritime accidents.

With so many potential causes of maritime crashes, it is vital for everyone involved in the shipping industry to be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid them.

Maritime Accident Statistics

According to the United States Coast Guard [1], between 2010 and 2020, there were 4,521 maritime crashes reported.

Of those accidents, 3,046 resulted in fatalities. The most common types of accidents were vessel collisions (31%), groundings (27%), and fires (14%).

The 1920 Jones Act protects seamen and has successfully reduced the number of maritime crashes. The legislation requires that all vessels operating in US waters be built in the United States and manned by US crews.

It also provides for strict liability in negligence cases, meaning an injured party does not need to prove negligence showing that the vessel owner was at fault to receive compensation.

Injuries Resulting from Maritime Accidents

Injuries from maritime crashes can be severe and even life-threatening.

Maritime crash injuries may include:

Were you injured in a maritime crash? It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. In addition, consult a Chicago Jones Act attorney from our law offices who can help you protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Maritime crashes can occur in various ways, including collisions between vessels, capsizing or sinking of ships, fires or explosions onboard vessels, and accidents involving cargo or passengers onboard vessels.

Maritime mishaps can also occur while someone works on a vessel, such as loading or unloading cargo.

The Need for Maintenance and Cure in the Maritime Industry

“Maintenance and cure” is a type of insurance that maritime staff access to cover medical management costs if injured on the job.

“Maintenance and cure” are an important safety net for workers in this dangerous industry, and it can help them get the care they need without worrying about how they will pay for it.

The Doctrine of Unseaworthiness in Maritime Financial Damages

The doctrine of unseaworthiness [2] is another avenue of recovery for boat workers. The doctrine of unseaworthiness allows an injured maritime worker to sue the vessel’s owner rather than the employer.

Have you been injured in a maritime crash? You may be entitled to financial damages for your injuries. Contact a Chicago maritime attorney to discuss your legal options.

Jones Act Claims in the Maritime Industry

One of the first things you need to do when filing a Jones Act claim is to determine the federal statute of limitations. Under general maritime law, you have three years from your incident date to file a Jones Act lawsuit for workers’ compensation payments, but there are some important exceptions to this rule.

Physical damage settlements from work are financial compensation paid to hurt workers while working on a vessel on the water. The employer or the insurance company pays the settlements. They can vary depending on the severity of the physical damage.

Seamen compensation claims have been the subject of much litigation. In particular, the Jones Act has provided seamen with many benefits, including the right to raise claims against vessel owners and co-workers and sue for negligence.

Under the Federal Employers Liability Act [3], workers injured at sea while working can file maritime injury claims.

Unique Aspects of Work-Related Severe Injury Legislation That Apply to Injured Mariners

To recover for your physical damages from the shipowner or operator of a vessel as a seaman under federal law, you must establish that your damages were at least in part your employer’s fault.

In other words, you must establish liability by demonstrating that a hazardous condition or consequence of a negligent act on the sea vessel caused or contributed to the damages, like unseaworthiness.

Unlike other state workers and tradespeople hurt during their employment and can receive benefits under workers’ compensation, the sole remedy for an injured sailor is to pursue a Merchants Marine Act lawsuit.

A Chicago, IL, legal counsel will build a case using the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act [4] enacted to protect offshore/maritime workers.

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Medical Care for Injured Offshore/Maritime Workers

Injured workers are often reluctant to seek help from company doctors, fearing they may be penalized or lose their jobs.

Often, an accident occurs on the job, but the injured maritime workers do not report it for fear of recrimination, leading to severe harm and even permanent disability. Injured workers have the right to seek medical help without fear of reprisal.

Seamen have a right to maintenance and cure to ensure that the vessel is fit for its intended purpose. The ship’s owner is responsible for providing seamen to heal maritime injuries with medical treatment and supervision until they can return to work.

A Maritime Accident Report

The Jones Act requires that an accident report be filed when maritime crashes occur. The accident report must include information about the accident and the investigation findings. The Jones Act also requires that the accident be reported to the National Transportation Safety Board [5].

The seamen and fellow employees are a particular class of workers with specific rights and protections. As a seaman, you must know these rights and protections to take advantage of them if needed.

Do you have any questions about the maritime worker’s compensation benefits or your rights as a seaman injured on navigable waters? Consult with a Chicago maritime injury attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC. Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757) for a free consultation.

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Holding the Liable Party Accountable

Where an accident occurred as the result of negligent acts on the part of a crewmember, the injured person may be able to bring a Jones Act claim in Lake County.

Cruise ship, offshore, seaman, or maritime workers have a legal right to file a suit against their employer for negligence if they fail to perform a reasonable action to ensure a safe working environment.

You Can File Claims If the Jones Act Applies in Your Case

The Merchants Marine Act is federal maritime legislation that allows seamen hurt on the job to recover damages from their maritime employers. To file a Jones Act claim, the injured person must be a seaman who was injured while working on a vessel in waters they could navigate.

The Average Settlement Amount in Jones Law Cases

Settlements under the Jones Act law are usually based on a percentage of the total value of the personal injury claim.

The average settlement amount is typically between 30 and 40 percent of the total value of the claim. However, settlements can range from a few thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Were you injured or lost a loved one due to a maritime crash? If so, contact a Jones Act attorney, we will never share confidential or sensitive information regarding your case. Your Jones Act attorney can discuss your case and advise you on the best legal action.

Once liability has been established against their employer, an injured seaman is entitled to temporary benefits known as maintenance and cure. Maintenance is a stipend paid to sailors who are taken out of their position by a physician due to their serious injuries.

A cure is a medical expense reimbursement for doctors, medical appointments for care, hospitals, medical bills, and prescriptions. Our Jones Act lawyers are experts and can help you learn more about pursuing a claim involving maintenance and cure.

Further distinguishing Jones Act benefits from those typically afforded under maritime workers’ compensation, a seaman may be entitled to significant financial recovery for lost wages, medical bills, disability, fringe benefits, and pain and suffering.

Seamen must have a maritime lawyer who understands the law and their legal right to obtain financial damages for their work-related injuries.

When a seaman dies in an accident, his family has the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit based on the maritime law that applies to their situation.

The Supreme Court of the United States and Jones Act Cases

According to the United States Constitution, only the Supreme Court was granted the power to hear admiralty cases. This power meant that it was the only court system allowed to hear disputes related to maritime law.

The Constitution gave the highest court a unique jurisdiction over issues that were relevant to ships and trade across oceans, seas, and other navigable waters. Over time, this restriction has lessened due to Congress’ power of adjudication, allowing lower courts to hear Jones Act cases following the admiralty law as well.

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Jones Act Lawyer FAQs

Our maritime injury law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions of maritime law involving hurt seamen and offshore workers seeking compensation for their damages. A Jones Act negligence attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC has answered some common questions below.

Call our law offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form for additional information or to schedule a free consultation.

Who can sue under the Jones Act if hurt in a maritime setting?

Under the Jones Act, seamen can sue their employers under admiralty law to seek compensation for personal injury or death caused by employer negligence.

The Jones Act allows seamen to receive damages for medical expenses, lost income, and other resulting monetary losses due to negligence. Additionally, family members of the damaged party may be able to sue for preventable death if they can establish liability involving the decedent’s employer.

What is the Jones Act under general maritime law?

The Jones Act [6] is a federal law that provides seamen and other maritime employees with certain legal rights and protections. It allows them to sue their employers for negligence.

The federal law grants seamen the right to seek monetary compensation for any resulting medical bills, lost wages, or other damages caused by their employer’s negligence. It also gives family members of deceased seamen the right to file a civil lawsuit if they are eligible.

Who administers the Jones Act?

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) [7] is responsible for administering the Jones Act Waiver Processes 46 USC.

OSHA investigates and assesses any complaints related to the act, determines employers’ compliance with the terms of the law, and issues penalties when violations are found.

Additionally, they offer resources and guidance to employers concerning the appropriate practices and regulations outlined by the Jones Act to ensure employee safety and rights are appropriately upheld.

What are the disadvantages of the Jones Act?

The Jones Act has some potential drawbacks. [8] One of the primary disadvantages is that the Act can be difficult to navigate for both employers and employees, confusing certain rights or expectations.

Additionally, the costs associated with complying with the law can be costly for employers, as visits from OSHA inspectors, lawsuits from aggrieved employees, or fines incurred due to non-compliance can all add up quickly. Finally, it may also hinder businesses from expanding their operations by limiting who they can hire or where they can ship goods.

What is the Jones Act statute of limitations?

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a Jones Act claim is three years from the date of injury or illness. However, if you file a claim related to intentional misconduct, you may have up to six years from the date of injury to file the lawsuit.

Additionally, if a deceased maritime worker’s family members wish to bring a wrongful death suit under the Jones Act, they generally have one year from the date of death.

How can a Jones Act attorney maximize my benefits after I was injured?

The Jones Act provides many important benefits to workers and employers. For employees, it offers job security, fair wages, and the right to seek financial compensation if they are injured while on the job.

Employers benefit from liability protection, as well as compliance with safety regulations that can help prevent injuries and fatalities in the workplace. The law also provides greater flexibility for employers regarding hiring practices and labor regulations for every maritime worker.

The Jones Act ensures a more level playing field between businesses operating in US waters by outlawing foreign vessels from engaging in domestic maritime traffic.

A qualified Jones Act attorney can help maximize your benefits, such as obtaining monetary damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. They can also negotiate settlements and represent you in court when needed.

An experienced maritime lawyer knows how admiralty law works, industry best practices, and relevant case precedents. Maritime lawyers provide the confidence you need to pursue your Jones Act claim to obtain all the rightful compensation.

How do admiralty laws work if a Jones Act seaman is injured on a cruise ship?

If an injury occurred on a cruise ship, the injured seamen and maritime workers are entitled to compensation under the Jones Act if their injury or illness was caused by the negligence of the vessel’s captain, crew, or other personnel.

If a cruise line is negligent in maintaining its ship, it can be liable for the injuries sustained by seamen and other maritime workers. To receive compensation through a Jones Act lawsuit or claim, the seaman must prove that their employer’s negligence directly caused their injury or illness.

Most Jones Act cases involving severe injuries are complex. However, an experienced maritime injury lawyer can resolve a Jones Act lawsuit to ensure the injured victim receives maximum compensation and benefits.

Hire the Best Chicago, IL Personal Injury Lawyers and Experts on the Merchants Marine Act

Are you a seaman with on-the-job injuries? Our maritime attorneys can help you understand your legal rights. We represent injury victims hurt by their employer’s negligent behavior who must pay injured workers and crew members for their maritime injuries.

Our Jones Act attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can determine if you could pursue a potential third-party Jones Act seamen claim against a subcontractor or a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer who contributed to your maritime injury.

If you were hurt in an accident on a vessel, dock, or maritime setting or lost a loved one in a maritime crash, you deserve to file your case through our maritime accident legal firm.

Our Jones Act attorneys offer a free consultation for all physical injury cases. During your initial consultation, you will discuss your potential Jones Act seamen claim with our experienced trial lawyers.

Contact our Chicago, IL, legal firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to receive immediate legal advice from a Jones Act lawyer.

Resources: [1] United States Coast Guard, [2], [3] U.S. Government Accountability Office, [4] U.S. Department of Labor, [5] National Transportation Safety Board, [6] Library of Congress , [7] OSHA, [8] CATO Institute

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

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Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

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Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

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This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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