Generally, sailors have three years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries related to a Jones Act claim.
The Jones Act allows seamen to sue for damages if they are injured while working on a vessel in navigation. Typically, they can bring an action against the ship's owner, coworkers, and captain for compensation. However, sailors don't have forever to pursue their case. They actually only have about three years but that amount of time is affected by a few things:
What Are The Laws Surrounding Jones Act Claim Deadlines?
The laws surrounding Jones Act claim deadlines are federal statutes of limitations and they normally limit plaintiffs to three years which is typically more time than states afford to personal injury claimants.
Many states and even the federal government have strict time limits on when you can file your case for personal injuries. They are known as statutes of limitations. For instance, Illinois allows plaintiffs two years from the date of their injury to file a case for damages. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202. However, you get a little more time with Jones Act cases. The federal government gives you three years to bring your lawsuit to court as you can see from the relevant statute:
"Except as otherwise provided by law, a civil action for damages for personal injury or death arising out of a maritime tort must be brought within 3 yearsafter the cause of action arose."
See 46 U.S. Code § 30106
Yet, there are two wrinkles to this general rule. First, plaintiffs can possibly extent this window if they can demonstrate that they did not discover their injuries until sometime after the incident. Of course, you must also show that you used reasonable diligence in monitoring yourself but if you do then the three-year clock does not stop running until you do discover the injury. Second, plaintiffs injured on American government ships only have two years to bring their claims to a court of law.
What Happens If I Don't File My Jones Act Case On Time?
Ultimately, if you don't file your Jones Act case on time, then you might not be able to pursue it at all but there can be other consequences as well.
The ramifications of not filing your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statutes of limitations can be severe. In several instances, it might mean that you cannot bring your case at all. As mentioned above, there might be some ways for you to extent the initial period. For example, you might get more time if you didn't reasonably discover your harms as they happened. Also, if your attorney negligently fails to file your suit before the deadline, then you might get reprieve. However, these are the exceptions to the rule. You should work hard to ensure your case gets in on time or you might go uncompensated for your expenses, injuries, and suffering.
How Can An Attorney Help Me File My Jones Act Claim On Time?
A Jones Act attorney can help you file your case on time by conducting all investigation and research necessary and then taking that information and putting it into a complaint effectively. Of course, that attorney must do all of this and then file the document before the appropriate statute of limitations expires.
If you know or even think that you have been injured while working aboard a vessel at sea, then you should contact a qualified attorney as quickly as possible. The clock starts ticking when you are hurt and if you fail to act with urgency then you might lose out on your chance to claim recovery. The laws regarding when to file are convoluted. And the things you need to do before you can file are great. Therefore, a skilled attorney can help by coming in and explaining what you need to do and even assisting you in the performance of the various investigative, research, and drafting tasks.
How Do You File A Jones Act Case Properly?
You file your Jones Act case properly by simply submitting a legally sufficient complaint to the appropriate courthouse prior to the termination of the statute of limitations.
It is critical that you file your Jones Act case on time within the particular statute of limitations. Otherwise, you can be left cold outside the courthouse gates. There are several scenarios by which we see people file their sea claims properly. First, seamen get hurt while working and immediately realize their injuries. They work with an attorney and bring an action in federal court within three years from the accident date. Second, a sailor is hurt in a discreet manner. Eventually, through reasonable investigation, the sailor finds the injury and brings an action within three years from the date of the discovery. Third, a mariner is harmed while working aboard an American government vessel. Taking the injury seriously, the worker obtains qualified counsel and brings a lawsuit before two years have passed since the incident.
Call Us And We'll Handle It All!
Hopefully, you can see the importance of filing your suit properly and timely. If either is not done adequately, your case can be kicked out and you could be left looking in from the outside. However, we have helped a number of victims bring their Jones Act claims into trial on time and with success. We can instruct you on the best way to do that and front all of the resources needed to win so that the difference for you between success and failure is not money. Call our offices at (888) 424-5757 and hear how we can get the ball rolling towards recovery.
For additional information see the following pages:
- What Are Jones Act Injury Cases Worth?
- What Laws Govern Jones Act Cases?
- What Laws Govern Maritime Worker Injury Cases?
- What Benefits Are Available to an Injured Seaman Under The Jones Act
- What is the Process for Filing a Jones Act Injury Claim?
- What Should I Do If I'm Injured While Working On A Ship?
- What Type of Damages Are Recoverable Under Jones Act?
- Do I Need A Jones Act Attorney to Represent Me?