Houston Jones Act Lawyer

What is the Jones Act?

Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act covers a number of regulations regarding trading via vessels between the United States, its territories, and other countries. However, this federal maritime law also regulates the relationship between the employer and crew aboard these vessels. Before the Jones Act, maritime workers were limited in their options to recover damages for injuries or fatalities aboard ships.

As part of the Jones Act, an employer may be found responsible for any injury or fatality arising in part or whole from the negligence of any of its agents, contractors, officers, or employees. The Jones Act also covers injuries sustained as the result of unseaworthy vessel, defective equipment, or mechanical failure.

What Does the Jones Act Cover?

The Jones Act covers any injury or fatality sustained by an employee as the result of employer negligence. In addition to injuries sustained on the job, the Jones Act also covers injuries sustained while living aboard a vessel, when embarking or disembarking a vessel, or during any other normal activity. The Jones Act clearly defines what qualifies as a vessel.

Employers can also be found negligent and responsible for injuries sustained aboard the vessel if:

  • The employer requires excessive overtime which leads to negligence
  • The employer fails to maintain safety equipment
  • The employer fails to inspect and maintain all mechanical components of the vessel and the vessel is deemed unseaworthy
  • The employer fails to select a competent captain, engineer, and/or other crewmen
  • The employer fails to avoid heavy weather including storms, choppy seas, etc.
  • The employer fails to provide enough fuel and/or other sources of energy for the vessel
  • The employer fails to properly supervise workers
  • The employer fails to provide adequate medical attention when workers are hurt
  • The employer fails to prevent assault or attacks from other crewmen
  • The employer fails to provide rescue for workers who are thrown from the vessel

If you are unsure of whether these situations apply, a Houston Jones Act lawyer can help.

Who Does the Jones Act Cover?

Those who qualify as a Jones Act seamen include the crew of a vessel or ship, as well as workers on a barge, cargo ship, chemical ship, or cruise ship. Maritime workers on a construction barge, dredge, drill ship, fishing vessel, and floating crane also qualify. There are numerous maritime jobs that allow seamen to quality for coverage under the Jones Act, from deckhands to commercial divers. Merchant mariners may also be entitled to Jones Act benefits.

Seamen who can prove their injuries were due to the negligence, either in whole or part, of the offshore employer can file claims for:

  • Medical expenses including doctor and hospital visits, imaging, surgeries, physical therapy, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering, including mental anguish
  • Cost to collect benefits
  • Loss of wages and benefits
  • Loss of motility

Get Help From A Houston Jones Act Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been injured while working offshore aboard a vessel in navigation, you have a limited time to act. The Jones Act does allow seamen to recover damages, including Maintenance and Cure.

Most Jones Act claims must be filed within three years of the incident, but that timeframe can be as short as one year in some cases. Contact a Houston maritime lawyer at Richard J. Plezia & Associates immediately at no cost to you so we can help you learn your rights when dealing with a maritime employer.

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