4 Quick Facts About the Jones Act and Seaman’s Injuries
There can be no question that the maritime industry is one of the top performing market sectors in California. According to the Transportation Institute, a non-profit that promotes education and information about maritime research education, California ranks fourth among all US states in terms of maritime employees at more than 51,450 workers. The downside of this data is that dangerous conditions are inherent in the maritime and shipping industries. Thousands of employees are at risk of being involved in fatal or injury-causing accidents.
Recognizing the risks, US lawmakers enacted the Jones Act in 1920 – and it still serves as the foundational law on the rights of victims of maritime accidents. Since there are many procedural and legal rules that are vastly different from other personal injury laws, it is essential to work with a knowledgeable Oakland seaman and Jones Act lawyer if you were hurt. However, you might benefit from reviewing four quick facts that put things in perspective.
- The lines are somewhat blurry as to who is covered. The Jones Act provides rights to an employee who qualifies as a “seaman,” meaning anyone among the crew that performs a significant amount of work tasks on a ship, boat, or related water-based vessel.
- The Jones Act applies to most vessels operating in the maritime industry. The key definition is “vessel in navigation,” and it is relatively expansive for employees who perform the majority of their work on boats. At the time of the accident in which you were injured, the vessel must be:
- Afloat, as opposed to being in drydock or otherwise out of the water;
- In operation;
- Capable of navigation; and,
- Operating upon navigable waters, which refers to the open sea, lakes, rivers, and similar bodies of water.
- Fault is a lesser issue in Jones Act claims. In a maritime case, the standard of proof is lower than a typical personal injury case. You do not need to show that your employer’s carelessness was direct cause of your injuries, but you must establish that:
- Your employer failed to maintain a reasonably safe workplace; and,
- This failure played a role in causing the accident in which you were injured, even if it was very minimal.
- You can recover an array of damages under the Jones Act. If you meet the legal requirements, you can obtain compensation that is not available in a traditional workers’ comp claim. Besides economic damages like lost wages and medical costs for current and future treatment, you may also qualify for non-economic damages. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and compensation for how your injuries affect your quality of life.
Learn More from an Oakland Seaman and Jones Act Attorney
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a maritime accident, time is of the essence to get in touch with our team at Venardi Zurada, LLP. You can contact our Oakland Seaman & Jones Act lawyers to set up a free consultation. Once we review your circumstances, we can advise you on your rights and remedies.