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Jones Act FAQ

Maritime Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About The Jones Act

Maritime law can be complicated, and understanding how a claim should be filed under the Jones Act can raise a lot of questions. One of our founding partners, Jed Silverman, at the Jolly Roger Law Firm, headquartered in Houston, served as a commercial sailor prior to becoming a litigator. Passionate about helping those injured at sea, our Jones Act lawyers answer some of the most commonly asked questions. For answers to your specific concerns, we offer a free initial consultation.

Can I file a workers’ compensation claim if I get injured at sea?

No. Typically, employers in the United States are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that will serve to protect employees who are injured on the job. Maritime and admiral law has jurisdiction over the sea and does not require workers’ compensation. However, private companies and employers of commercial vessels are considered part of the merchant marines and are subject to other laws that protect sailors, seamen and commercial fishermen.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, governs U.S. commercial vessels. Most important for our purposes, the Jones Act offers protection for employees of commercial vessels and requires that vessels functioning and navigating on the ocean provide a safe environment and be properly maintained.

Who does the Jones Act protect?

The Jones Act protects seamen. The term “seamen” includes anyone of any gender who is employed on a maritime or commercial vessel and spends a good portion of their job on the sea. Seamen can include members of the crew and even the captain of the ship.

Will I qualify for coverage under the Jones Act?

To be considered a seaman under the Jones Act, you must be able to prove the following:

  • You were assigned or employed by a vessel or fleet in some capacity.
  • The vessel or fleet was active and in operation and functioning in a navigable water space.
  • Your job duties and employment contributed in some way (at least 30%) to the operation of the vessel or fleet.

Even though working at sea is considered to be a dangerous profession, employers of maritime personnel are expected to provide a working environment that is as safe as possible.

What do I have to prove if I was injured on a boat?

Accidents and injuries are common on commercial vessels, and recovery is almost always possible under “maintenance and cure” obligations that require employers to pay for medical expenses and lost wages. However, maritime employees have the right to expect that the ship they work on is reasonably safe and regularly maintained. Otherwise, they might have a claim for negligence.

How long do I have to file a Jones Act claim?

There is a filing deadline for claims under the Jones Act. There is a three-year statute of limitations, which means that you have until three years after the day of the accident or injury to file a lawsuit.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute client relationship.