Maritime workers know plenty about working long hours in harsh, dangerous conditions. They also know that working conditions in the maritime industry can lead to serious injury.
But what may not be common seafaring knowledge is the law that applies when a maritime employee is seriously injured while working. Or where a sailor should file his claim or lawsuit to recover for his (or her) injuries.
In today’s post, we will touch briefly on these issues.
(NOTE: Maritime law is a highly specialized area of law. If you believe you have a maritime claim or case, please consult with experienced maritime counsel where you live.)
The Jones Act in a Nutshell
For injured sailors, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as The Jones Act (the “Jones Act” or “Act”) is the fundamental law to turn to. The Jones Act is a federal statute. It is the main legal vehicle through which seamen who are injured while working are able to seek damages from the crew, captain, or shipowner. It provides the only work injury-related compensation that injured seamen are legally entitled to receive.
The Jones Act has a number of very strict requirements. One of these is who can qualify for coverage under the Act.
Only a “seaman” can receive compensation under the Act. The word “seaman” is specifically defined in the Jones Act. Generally, it refers to a person who spends a “significant amount of his/her time” working as a crewmember or a captain on a “vessel “(almost any kind of ship or boat) that is considered “in navigation.” Under the Act, each one of these words and phrases has a very specific meaning as defined by law. For example, a seaman who only works part-time must spend at least 30% of his time as a captain or crew member to qualify for protection under the law. Another example is that dock workers or shipbuilders are not considered “seamen” under the law. They must look for compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
Injured Seamen and Venue
Venue, in legal terms, refers to the proper place to file (i.e., bring) a lawsuit or claim. In other words, the “venue” tells you which court is the proper court in which to file your claim. But for maritime employees, “venue” presents a thorny issue. The question becomes, where is the proper place to file your Jones Act claim or lawsuit? Generally, the answer is: the venue is proper in either state or federal court in:
- the state where the accident happened or
- in the state where the defendant(s) live or are headquartered.
Jones Act lawsuits are complicated. If you believe you have a claim under the Jones Act, consult with experienced maritime counsel.
Helping Real Folks Get Real Results.
At the Day Law Group, we are local counsel serving our local communities. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. We offer free consultations and in many cases, we do not get paid unless you win. Call (225) 465-1232 to schedule your free consultation ToDay.