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Personal Injury

Jones Act Lawyer

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Jones Act Lawyer

The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal maritime law that regulates maritime commerce and provides legal remedies for injured seamen. So if you are a martimine worker who was injured at sea, you may also be in the market for a Jones Act attorney. 

Flint Cooper’s seasoned maritime attorneys have experience filing Jones Act lawsuits. They have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of their clients and are available to help you get the justice and compensation that you deserve as well. 

Below, we discuss some basics about the Jones Act maritime law so that you can be more fully informed before proceeding with your legal claim.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, a maritime admiralty law, protects United States maritime workers when they get injured or sick on the job. The law states that when a  maritime worker is injured or becomes ill at work, they may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses related to their illness or injury.

What Are the Qualifications Needed to File a Jones Act Claim?

To file a Jones Act claim, the maritime employee must be considered a “seaman.” A seaman is an employee who spends at least 30% of their time working aboard a vessel in navigable waters and whose role on the vessel contributes to the mission of the voyage. Some examples of positions that typically qualify as seamen include:

  • Fisherman
  • Mechanics
  • Stewards
  • Deckhands
  • Oil rig workers
  • Tankermen
  • Yacht crew
  • Pilots
  • Cooks
  • Mates

In addition to the seaman requirement, the Jones Act requires that the employee’s injury or illness be associated with their employer’s negligence. Some examples of situations where an employer may have been negligent include:

  • Improper training of a vessel’s crew
  • Improper maintenance of the vessel itself
  • Poorly maintained equipment
  • Failure to follow safety procedures
  • Slippery substances on the deck of the vessel

A maritime attorney will be able to evaluate the details of your case and tell you if you qualify for a claim under the Jones Act.

What Types of Compensation Can Be Recovered Under the Jones Act?

If seamen are injured on the job, they are usually eligible for several types of compensation under the Jones Act.

Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages, sometimes referred to as economic damages, stem from losses that are easy to calculate in terms of their monetary value. Pecuniary damages compensate an injured party for losses like:

  • Hospital visit costs
  • Doctors bills
  • Costs of treatment
  • Medication costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity

These are just a few examples of pecuniary damages. 

Non-Pecuniary Damages

Non-pecuniary damages, or non-economic damages, are a bit different from pecuniary damages. Non-pecuniary damages stem from losses that are harder to quantify. Some examples of non-pecuniary damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent or temporary disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium

Because pecuniary damages are harder to quantify, they can be harder to recover. However, an experienced maritime lawyer should be able to get you the most damages possible.

Punitive Damages

The Jones Act allows seamen to seek a special kind of damages called punitive damages. These types of damages are rarely awarded. However, when an employer has been grossly negligent or if their behavior was particularly egregious, punitive damages can be awarded. These types of damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

The Difference Between The Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation

As mentioned previously, the Jones Act is a federal statute that provides seamen a cause of action to sue their negligent employers after they have been injured at work. On the other hand, workers’ compensation is a state-based insurance program that provides benefits to employees who have been injured on the job. Workers’ compensation claims are available to a wide range of employees, not just seamen. When you apply for workers compensation, you do not have to show that your employer was negligent, unlike with Jones Act claims. However, if your employer was negligent, you do not have the right to sue them for non-pecuniary, as you can under the Jones Act.  

The Jones Act Statute of Limitations

In almost every claim for damages, there are important legal deadlines you must meet to recover compensation. The laws that implement these legal deadlines are called statutes of limitations.  

The statute of limitations for the Jones Act is codified in U.S. Code 46 § 30106. The law states that generally, a person must file their Jones Act claim within three years of the date of the injury or qualifying event. If you were injured at sea but do not meet this legal deadline, you may be barred from recovery completely. This is a hash law, but a Jones Act attorney can help you meet these important legal deadlines and follow the proper court procedures.

Why Do I Need a Jones Act Attorney?

The process of filing a claim under the Jones Act can be complex and challenging. However, a Jones Act attorney can help injured seamen navigate the legal process of filing a claim and help ensure that they receive the full amount of compensation that they are entitled to under the law. 

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In addition, an attorney can help you gather evidence, assess the value of the claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if needed.

Practice Areas

Government Takings

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Personal Injury

Personal Injury

Products Liability

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