The Jones Act & Maritime Worker Injuries
When a sailor or any employee who works on a vessel in navigable waters for more than 30% of his or her employment is injured on the water, he or she may seek compensation from any party whose negligence caused or contributed to the injuries. Many of these claims are covered by the Federal Jones Act, which gives maritime workers who are injured in U.S. waters the right to sue parties whose negligence or recklessness caused their injuries, including ship owners, ship captains, and fellow sailors.
Because it preserves the right to seek compensation for injuries and wrongful death, the Jones Act protects important rights not only for injured sailors, but also for their families. The attorneys at Farah & Farah are experienced at handling workers’ compensation cases for maritime workers that have been injured on the job or for family members who have lost a loved one working on a vessel. To learn more about how your rights are protected by the Jones Act and your legal options for pursuing compensation, please call us at 855-797-9899.
History of the Jones Act
The Jones Act was passed in 1920 to give sailors who have been injured by negligence on the water the right to seek compensation for their injuries, and to give the families of sailors who were killed on the water the right to seek compensation for wrongful death.
Prior to the passing of the Jones Act by the U.S. federal government, sailors could not sue for injuries suffered while they were on board a boat or a ship. They could sue if they were injured by another’s negligence while on land, but they could only seek compensation for injuries inflicted by negligence if they were injured or killed because the vessel on which they were serving was deemed unseaworthy. Other acts of negligence or recklessness could not support a lawsuit, no matter how egregious they were or how badly the sailor was injured as a result. The families of sailors who lost their lives in the line of duty could not seek compensation if negligence led to their loved one’s death, unless the negligence was linked to the unseaworthiness of the vessel.
The Jones Act filled a gap left by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which covered dock and harbor workers who were injured on the job but specifically exempted crew members of a vessel. Now, those who work on or near the water in Florida are typically covered by either a state or federal law allowing them to seek compensation when a person or company’s negligence causes harm.
Who is Covered by the Jones Act?
In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court established a two-part test for determining which workers are covered under the Jones Act:
- The worker’s duties “must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission,” and
- The worker “must have a connection to a vessel in navigation (or an identifiable group of vessels) that is substantial in both its duration and its nature.”
Workers who meet these criteria may find that a wide range of injuries are covered by the Jones Act. They include all types of injuries resulting from a slip and fall, which is a common accident aboard ship. They also include injuries that result when equipment is poorly maintained or when ship owners cut corners in repairing, maintaining, or equipping their vessels. They even include many situations in which the negligence of a ship owner, ship captain, or coworker directly results in harm to a sailor.
Let Our Jacksonville Jones Act Attorneys Help You
If you have been injured as a maritime worker due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party, please do not hesitate to contact the Florida maritime law firm Farah & Farah for a free consultation.