Each Jones Act lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A has extensive experience defending the rights of seamen who are hurt or become ill as a result of their job duties.
What Is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a special federal law passed in part to protect workers on vessels in navigation and it is codified in Title 46 of the United States Code. It provides a cause of action in negligence for any “seaman” injured in the course of his or her employment.
Under general maritime law prior to enactment of the Jones Act, seamen were allowed what was called “maintenance and cure” from their employers for injuries sustained in service of the vessel. They could collect damages from the owner of the vessel for “injuries received by seamen in consequence of the “unseaworthiness of the ship,” but they were prohibited from recovering based on negligence of the ship’s master or crew.
The United States Congress enacted the Jones Act in 1920 to remove the bar to seamen trying to recover for negligence. It incorporates the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) which was a federal law passed to protect railroad workers.
Under the Act, a maritime worker can recover money if he or she was injured by reason of the employer’s failure to provide a safe place to work. It is important to note that the accident does not necessarily need to occur on a vessel. For example, if the employer puts the seafarer into a hotel and an accident occurs because of the fault of the hotel, the injury may be compensable under the Jones Act.
Are You a Seaman?
The Jones Act does not define the term “seaman” and leaves it to the courts to determine which maritime workers are entitled to admiralty law’s special protections. The Jones Act does not apply to volunteer or unpaid crew members but it can apply to United States seafarers as well as foreign seafarers. When the base of operations of the employer or shipping company is in the United States, foreign seafarers can claim the protection of the Jones Act in many cases. Plaintiffs retaining a Jones Act law firm should consult with the firm’s Jones Act lawyers to determine the applicability of the law to their case.
Injuries encompassed by the Act which are not work-related may arise by virtue of a seaman living aboard a vessel or coming and leaving the vessel. If the ship has a policy of allowing seamen to return to the ship in an inebriated condition, the owner may be liable for any injury the seaman incurs in doing so, even if the seaman was drunk at the time.
Negligence on the part of the owner or master of a vessel has been determined to encompass:
- failure to maintain safe equipment and appliances
- care in selecting competent masters and crew
- assaults committed by fellow seamen in the line of work
- negligent orders
- failure to avoid violent weather
- failure to provide adequate medical treatment
- negligent supervision or instruction, resulting in injury
- failure to search and rescue
Damages under the Jones Act include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages
- Loss of support or consortium to the seamen’s family members
- Loss of benefits
- Funeral expenses
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In wrongful death claims damages for pain and suffering that occurred prior to death are also able to be recovered (as long as they are filed within the statue of limitations).
Jones Act Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time frame in which an injured party must formally file their injury claim. If the deadline for filing a personal injury claim passes, then the claim is forever barred. The Jones Act Statute of Limitations requires that an action for damages be brought within three years of the injury or three years when a reasonable seaman could have been aware of the wrongful conduct causing damages. Contact the Jones Act lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. for a free consultation to review the facts of your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jones Act Claims
Focused primarily on maritime law, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman has helped thousands of injured seamen around the world successfully file claims for compensation. Below are some of the questions our attorneys are asked most frequently regarding the Jones Act.
- Who is a seaman? A good way to determine if you would qualify as a “seaman” under he Jones Act is if you spend 30 percent of more of your work time on a vessel. Seamen usually include, captains, officers, masters and crew members.
- What is “maintenance and cure”? This term refers to the damages that a seaman is entitled to after an injury. Day-to-day living expenses are defined as “maintenance” and any associated medical costs are referred to as “cure”.
- How do I file a claim? First you need to determine if you have a claim by contacting a Jones Act lawyer. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. offers a free consultation, during which you can determine your eligibility. Read more about what to expect when you file a Jones Act claim.
- What if the injury was my fault? You can still file a claim, but your compensation may be reduced based on how much the jury and court find you to be at fault.
The attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A are happy to speak with you about your potential case. Our firm has recovered more than $200 million dollars for seamen and other clients*. The firm also provides many resources on the web, including our free cruise ship lawyer app for your phone. Feel free to contact us online, or by telephone, with any additional questions.
Contact a Jones Act Lawyer to Learn More
The Jones Act is one of the most protective laws in the United States and can hold the employer liable for even the slightest negligence. If you are in need of help, contact our Jones Act lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. Founded by Charles R. Lipcon who began practicing law in 1971, our firm handles all types of maritime cases throughout the Florida coast, the United States and internationally. We offer a free initial consultation as an opportunity to discuss your case and learn about the legal options available to you. Call us today at 877-233-1238 or contact us through our website.