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Jones Act

In the United States, certain qualifying seamen may be entitled to compensation under the federal Jones Act (also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) for injuries they suffer while on-the-job. The Jones Act is highly protective of seamen’s rights, and liability can give rise to full and adequate damages. As such, maritime defendants have long-attempted to circumvent application of the Act.

Attorney Walter Gabriel has a long history in the courtroom, having served as both a prosecutor and now as a plaintiff’s attorney handling various injury claims. Thanks to these diverse experiences, he has gained deep insight into the multitude of ways in which a dispute may develop over the course of litigation, and how best to navigate the case so as to reach a favorable result.

If you’ve been injured in a scenario that is likely to invoke maritime law, whether through the Jones Act or otherwise, we encourage you to contact the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC for comprehensive assistance with your dispute.

The Jones Act and Its Advantages

Under the Jones Act, employers are required to provide their seamen employees with a reasonably safe place to work. Failure to use ordinary care to maintain a vessel in a reasonably safe condition constitutes negligence under the Jones Act. This negligence requirement is quite a bit less restrictive than the sort of negligence required to establish a cause of action in standard personal injury litigation, however, as a claim may be actionable under the Jones Act so long as the employer’s failure to provide a reasonably safe place to work contributed partially to the injuries suffered by the employer.

For example, suppose that you are injured due to an improperly secured container aboard the cargo ship on which you work. Perhaps your employer (the shipping company) failed to adequately inspect and maintain the containers and their latches to ensure that the equipment was in good working order. Even if your injury was primarily caused due to the negligence of a third-party unloading the containers, if you can show that your employer’s negligence was even partially responsible for your injuries, then you are entitled to damages from them under the Jones Act.

Jones Act damages are not limited, as is typically the case with traditional workers’ compensation. Under the Jones Act, an injured plaintiff may sue and recover a range of damages that include compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and more.

Who is Eligible for Jones Act Compensation?

Jones Act compensation is available to certain qualified seamen. The specific requirements are as follows:

  • At least 30 percent of the seaman’s working time must be with their employment-related vessel;
  • The seaman’s duties must directly contribute to the vessel’s functions or other related tasks; and
  • The vessel must be in navigation (i.e., floating on a navigable waterway, such as a river, ocean, or lake bounding two states or linked to a river or ocean, and able to travel without the assistance of a tug.

For example, a worker who performs maintenance on a ship once it has been brought into a warehouse would likely not be entitled to Jones Act compensation, but a crew member of a cargo ship that spends most of his working time aboard the vessel would be entitled to Jones Act compensation.

Contact an Experienced Alexandria Maritime Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC is a personal injury firm representing the interests of those who have suffered harm in a variety of personal injury scenarios, including maritime injury disputes centered around a worker’s right to compensation. Jones Act litigation can be quite complex. It’s important that you work with a team of attorneys that has proved capable of handling such challenging disputes.

Ready to speak to an attorney about your Jones Act claim? Call 318-445-2121 or send us a message online  to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an Alexandria maritime injury attorney at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC.