What Is The Jones Act?
A law originally passed by Congress in the 1920’s, the Jones Act is a negligence statute designed to protect the rights of maritime workers who have fallen ill or gotten injured while working on the water as crewmembers. Speaking to the policy and reasoning behind the law, the Supreme Court in 1949 declared that the Act ““…was designed to put on the . . . industry some of the costs for the legs, eyes, arms, and lives . . . consumed in its operations” – and we here at O’Bryan Law have been working to uphold the Jones Act for nearly our entire professional careers.
Thousands of court decisions have interpreted the Jones Act over the years but the core of the Act has stayed true: any negligence on the part of the employer which causes or contributes to a crew member’s illness or injury, however slight, is sufficient enough to establish liability against the employer. To put it simply, anytime a worker is hurt through employer negligence, the case can be taken to court and the employer may be held responsible.
Am I Covered By The Jones Act?
Due to the complex interpretations of the Jones Act, many workers are initially unsure if their rights are also protected by the Act. Any worker with a substantial connection to a vessel in navigation, from captains to busboys and every job in between, is covered by the Jones Act. And the vessel doesn’t have to be actively navigating, either – even if the vessel is docked, if it is currently staffed and in use, it’s considered “in navigation” and that means it’s protected by the Jones Act.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured While Working On The Water?
The first and most important thing is to get your injury tended to by a licensed medical practitioner. While still on board, the accident report is usually made by your employer. This is often critical to determining the strength of your case under the Jones Act, so make sure the report is as detailed as possible.
Describe any workplace factors that may have contributed to the accident, such as poor lighting or darkness, slippery floors and surfaces, co-worker negligence, insufficient or defective equipment, insufficient manpower, unsafe procedures, or anything else that may have contributed to your accident. The more information you can provide, the better.
And above all else, try to make sure that an incorrect, incomplete, doctored, forged, or non-existent accident report does not exist in your case. This is a sad reality of many Jones Act claims, and filling out an accurate accident report immediately is your best bet in making sure the information in your report is correct and truthful.
Do I Need A Jones Act Attorney?
In many cases of injury, your employer’s insurance agency or claims agent may try to reach out to you to get a signed or taped statement. These agents are typically on the side of your employer and may try to ‘slant’ the facts to remove culpability on the employers’ part.
If you want to make sure the scales of justice are tipped in your favor as much as possible after an accident, you need the help of an experienced offshore injury attorney like O’Bryan Law. Talking to a Jones Act attorney before you sign any sort of paperwork or providing any kind of statement or testimony will help prevent your case from being lost in favor of your employer and their insurance policy.
Contact A Jones Act Attorney Today
If you’re an injured maritime worker that needs a lawyer or any kind of legal representation, contact O’Bryan Law to fight for you. Our combined decades of experience has led us to handle – and win – hundreds of Jones Act claims, and we’ll fight for your rights no matter where you are. Get your free case consultation today and let us defend your claim in court.