What injuries are eligible under the Jones Act?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Commercial Seamen |

Seamen endure much in their line of work. From working on fishing vessels in rough seas and maintaining cargo ship decks to operating tugboats in busy harbors, they face significant risks every day.

Exposure to harsh weather conditions, hazardous materials and dangerous equipment can lead to injuries, for which they can seek compensation under the Jones Act. However, mariners need to understand that only certain injuries qualify for compensation.

Compensable injuries under the Jones Act

The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, permits injured seamen to sue their employers for damages. But what injuries does this act cover? The Jones Act covers a wide range of physical injuries, such as:

  • Broken bones from deck accidents
  • Burns from ship fires or explosions
  • Traumatic brain injuries from falls or struck-by accidents
  • Spinal cord injuries from heavy lifting or severe falls
  • Repetitive stress injuries from repeated actions over time
  • Job-related illnesses like lung diseases from exposure to toxic substances

When checking if an injury is compensable, the law also must first consider the unique circumstances of the accident. For instance, if a seaman gets hurt in an accident, the employer’s responsibilities are under scrutiny.

Did the employer ensure the seaman’s equipment was safe to use? Did the employer provide adequate safety gear? Did they order the seaman to perform a dangerous task without proper training?

These factors can help determine if the employer was negligent, which is crucial for a Jones Act claim.

Pursuing compensation

Filing a personal injury claim under the Jones Act can be a lengthy process. It involves determining the employer’s negligence, a vital component of the claims process. Establishing fault requires gathering evidence, documenting injuries and presenting a compelling case that the employer didn’t provide a safe working environment. These steps can certainly be difficult to tackle alone.

Given the complexities, injured mariners should consider consulting with an attorney. An attorney can provide guidance in compiling all relevant documentation to construct a claim. They can also clarify seamen’s rights and options under the Jones Act.