Jones Act Lawyer
If You Qualify, a Jones Act Injury Claim Usually Provides Better Benefits
Than Your State's Workman's Compensation Program
It is well-known that the officers and crew of ships engaged in maritime
commerce face a higher risk of serious on-the-job injury. These injuries
are often made worse by a delay in the accident victim's transfer
to shore where a higher level of medical care is available. In recognition
of these, and other, problems the officers and crew of vessels operating
in maritime commerce are covered by a special form of Workers' Compensation
known as the Jones Act.
On this page, the maritime injury lawyer at theDoan Law Firm will explain the basic principles of the Jones Act as it pertains to 1)
who is eligible for Jones Act injury benefits, 2) the types of benefits
that may be available to an injured seaman, and 3) how a Jones Act lawyer
can help injured seamen, and their families, receive the full amount of
compensation due them for their injuries.
What is the Jones Act?
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the
Jones Act, established the legal framework for the U.S. Merchant Marine. One of
the Jones Act's lesser-known functions is to protect those seamen
injured while at sea or while, under certain circumstances, their vessel
is docked at a harbor or port.
While the Jones Act is a form of Workers' Compensation, it is structured
somewhat differently than other programs that protect workers injured
on the job. The major differences between the Jones Act and other Workers'
Compensation programs include:
The Jones Act is a federal program which benefits a relatively small group
Unlike state-run Workers' Compensation programs, which cover large
numbers of employees in many industries, the Jones Act deals only with
seamen serving aboard a vessel that is
in navigation. These terms will be defined in a later section on this page.
The Jones Act allows an injured seaman to sue an employer for negligence.
Such lawsuits are not allowed in a state Workers' Compensation case
Workers' Compensation is a "faultless" system. This means
that an injured worker can collect benefits without having to prove that
someone else was "at fault" and caused the worker's injury.
In return an injured worker loses the right to file a lawsuit against
the employer, no matter how much the employer's negligence may have
contributed to the worker's injury.
In Jones Act injury cases, benefits are paid in a manner much the same
as with Worker's Compensation. However, the injured seaman
does not give up the right to file a lawsuit against the seaman's employer
and can ask a court to order the employer to pay
punitive damages (damages that "punish" the employer for its negligence).
The benefits that may be paid to an injured seaman under the Jones Act
are often superior to those available to an injured worker under a state
Workers' Compensation program
One of the best examples of how the Jones Act is usually superior to state
Workers' Compensation is that the Jones Act typically will pay around
67% of an injured seaman's average weekly wage as compared to not
more than 60% of the wages allowed under Worker's Compensation.
Who is eligible to receive Jones Act benefits?
As noted above in order to qualify for Jones Act benefits, you must have been a
seaman who was injured while working aboard a ship and that ship was
in navigation. Since these terms may be unfamiliar to many viewing this page, they will
be explained here. A
seaman is any crewmember of a vessel whose duties contribute to the completion
of the vessel's assigned mission. This means that, as far as the Jones
Act is concerned, anyone whose presence aboard a vessel is necessary to
complete its mission is a "seaman."
A vessel is
in navigation if it is capable of moving under its own power
and it is being operated on waterways that are commonly used for the purpose
of interstate or international commerce. The opinion of a Jones Act lawyer
should be obtained if there is any question regarding a vessel's "in
navigation" status at the time an accident occurred.
How do I apply for injury benefits under the Jones Act?
As with any other on the job injury claim, the Jones Act has its own set
of "rules" or "regulations" that are set by the insurance
company that manages Jones Act claims for a particular vessel or fleet
of vessels and, to a lesser extent, by the U.S. Department of Labor's
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Since each insurer is allowed
to set its own "paperwork" policies, the following information
should be taken as being "general" in nature.
The most important thing to keep in mind regarding a Jones Act injury claim
is that federal maritime law
requires that you report any injury that you suffer to your captain, or to someone
in authority, within 7 days. You have the right to request that your accident
be recorded in the ship's log and that you receive copies of all forms
that you are required to complete by your employer and/or your employer's
insurance carrier such as
Once you have reported your injury, you have essentially done all that
is required of you by law and you need only follow your employer's
instructions regarding matters such as how to obtain the medical care
required to treat your injury or how to file for Jones Act temporary disability
income support payments. You should also be aware that there may be occasions
when the system will "break down" and you may need to contact
a lawyer who is familiar with the Jones Act and how to protect the best
interests of an injured client.
Why you need a Jones Act lawyer
From the information presented on this page, you can see that the success
or failure of a Jones Act injury claim often hinges on the answers to
questions such "Was the accident victim a 'seaman'?"
or "Was the vessel on which the injury occurred 'in navigation'
at the time?" To ensure that you will receive a fair settlement of
your Jones Act injury case, you will need the services of an experienced
Jones Act personal injury lawyer.
When choosing a Jones Act lawyer, you will want someone who:
- has the training and experience necessary to understand complex legal issues
such as liability and compensation
- has experience in negotiating with multiple potential defendants
- locating, and working with, expert witnesses
- using accident reconstruction to identify unsuspected equipment failures
One lawyer with the experience and training necessary to win even the most
complex maritime injury case is the Jones Act lawyer at the Doan Law Firm,
a nationwide personal injury law practice with offices in major cities
around the country.
contact the Jones Act lawyer at the
Doan Law Firm to arrange a review of your Jones Act personal injury case, your initial
consultation with our firm is always free of charge and does obligate
you to hire us to represent you in your Jones Act personal injury case.
Should you later decide that we should manage your Jones Act personal
injury case, we are usually willing to assume full responsibility for
all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously
agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement we will win for you.