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The Jones Act and Maritime Injuries - All You Need to Know

Alicia Betz
October 1, 2020

Maritime work is exciting, adventurous, and it gets that adrenaline pumping. While exhilarating, it can also be very dangerous.

According to the CDC, “These workers face a higher risk of fatality, injury, and illness than the average American worker.”

With higher risk of injury, also comes federal protection in the form of the Jones Act. This act helps you get compensation for maritime injuries due to negligence.

What is Maritime Work?

Maritime work is a broad term that encompasses many occupations: fishermen, dock workers, cruise ship workers, and more. In order to be considered a seamen in terms of the Jones Act, you must spend at least 30% of your time working in a vessel on navigable waters

While working these dangerous jobs, it’s expected that your employer take every precaution to keep you and your colleagues safe.  This includes but is not limited to: 

  • Proper training
  • Equipment checks
  • Equipment repairs
  • Proper safety gear
  • Adequate warning signs in hazardous areas

Following these protocols helps reduce and prevent maritime injuries. 

martitime injuries help

What is the Jones Act?

Unfortunately, negligence that leads to injuries happens. Seamen are not covered under traditional worker’s compensation, but the Jones Act, established in 1920, is a federal law that covers these employees and helps them get compensation for injuries. Importantly, in order to fight for and receive compensation, your injury needs to be at least partly due to negligence. If you drank on the job, for example, the Jones Act can’t help you. 

If you have been injured on the job, you have three years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit with the help of a maritime injury lawyer. If successful, the Jones Act ensures you’ll receive compensation for:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering (this includes both physical injuries as well as mental suffering, such as PTSD)

One of the aspects that makes the act unique is that it covers past and future losses, ensuring you get compensated for projected future loss of earnings and medical expenses. You can also fight for compensation if your employer didn’t properly compensate you initially. If your employer did compensate you but you feel that the compensation wasn’t fair, that’s another reason to reach out to a lawyer.

The Jones Act doesn’t only protect seamen, either. It ensures American built, owned, crewed, and flagged vessels are able to move goods across the country from one U.S. point to another. The act makes sure we don’t rely on foreign ships to transport goods like food and medical equipment on U.S. waters. Subsequently, it also provides and secures hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans. 

What To Do If You Have A Maritime Injury?

While maritime work is fun, rewarding, and an intense calling for many people, with high benefit also comes high risk. For 100 years, the Jones Act has been there to make sure seamen are properly compensated for their injuries due to negligence.

Talking to a lawyer can help you review your options and get the compensation you deserve. At Select Justice, we have a great selection of lawyers who are experienced in maritime law and the Jones Act.  Get a free case evaluation now to learn what your best options are.


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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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