If you were hurt while working onboard a vessel at sea, the federal Jones Act offers you recourse to seek damages for your injuries in court. Although the Jones Act is designed to protect injured workers in a way that is similar to the State’s workers’ compensation program for onshore workers, there are many differences. Obtaining appropriate compensation may require the services of an attorney who has deep familiarity with maritime law and its provisions.
Contact a Pearland Jones Act lawyer if you suffered serious illness or injuries while working on a vessel at sea, in port, or on a navigable inland waterway. A competent maritime injury attorney could advise you about your legal options and set the smoothest course toward compensation for your injuries.
Jones Act Protections for Seamen in Pearland
To qualify for the protections of the Jones Act, you must be a seaman. To meet the legal definition of a seaman, you must spend at least 30 percent of your on-duty hours working on a vessel in navigation and contribute to the vessel’s mission.
This definition could cover virtually anyone whose duties support the running of the vessel or the wellbeing of its crew. However, vessel operators might contest whether someone whose duties are primarily administrative and who spends most of their time onshore qualifies as a seaman. A seasoned Jones Act claims attorney could present evidence demonstrating that you spent sufficient time on board and performed duties that supported the vessel’s mission.
Almost any structure designed and built to move in deep water could qualify as a vessel under the Jones Act, but whether a vessel is in navigation could cause complications. If a vessel is afloat in navigable waters, it is in navigation even when stationary or docked. This and other nuances should be left to a local lawyer to navigate.
Filing a Claim under the Jones Act
A seaman who suffers an injury or illness could take specific steps to preserve their rights and strengthen their Jones Act claim. For instance, you should immediately make a report to your supervisor or the captain. Jones Act Maintenance and Cure (M&C) benefits are available for medical and living expenses from the date of injury, but you cannot prove your date of injury if you did not report it.
Getting medical attention as soon as possible is also critical. Delaying seeing a doctor invites your employer to question the seriousness of your injuries. In contrast, a maritime worker who can present a medical record documenting their condition soon after they first complained of illness or injury has a greater chance of success.
Seamen should also seek counsel from an attorney who is familiar with the Jones Act and how its provisions are typically interpreted in and around Pearland. Employers, vessel owners, and their insurers might take advantage of a seaman’s need for funds and convince them to settle a claim for less than it is worth. A trained legal advocate could handle negotiations and help ensure you receive fair treatment.
Proving Negligence in Jones Act Lawsuits
Unlike the workers’ compensation program that applies to onshore workers, the Jones Act offers seamen the right to sue their employers for damages resulting from work-related injuries. To successfully file a claim under the Jones Act, you must prove that your employer or the vessel’s owner was negligent in some way and that their negligence led to an otherwise avoidable injury or illness.
Examples of onboard negligence may include:
- Failing to provide a safe working environment
- Inadequate supervision
- Improperly stowed equipment
- Poor vessel maintenance
- Failure to prevent the spread of contagion
- Providing insufficient or spoiled food
An attorney in Pearland could investigate the circumstances surrounding a maritime accident and gather evidence of negligence to support your Jones Act claim.
What Damages Are Available under the Jones Act?
Damages available under the Jones Act may include wages lost while you are unable to work, and compensation for diminished earning capacity if your condition prevents you from ever returning to work. The Jones Act also allows you to seek compensation for pain and suffering, as well as for medical expenses not covered by M&C benefits.
Allow a Pearland Attorney to Handle Your Jones Act Claim
It is understandable to not be at your best when recovering from an illness or injury that has kept you out of work. Negotiating with your employer and the lawyers from their insurance company is not a task you should take on alone.
Trust a Pearland Jones Act lawyer to provide effective representation that gets you the compensation you deserve. Reach out today to schedule an appointment for a case review.