Maritime attorney, Tim Nies, an Army Ranger Veteran, and former maritime insurance defense trial attorney has been an injury attorney since 2001. He is unwavering in his commitment to fighting for the rights of and assisting injured seamen obtain full compensation for damages after an injury at sea.
JONES ACT ELIGIBILITY
For maritime workers to be entitled for compensation under the federal Jones Act, the injured worker must meet certain minimum requirements to meet the legal definition of a seamen under Admiralty law. These federal requirements are that the injured worker must spend at a minimum of 30% of his or her work offshore, and that his or her duties contributed to the functioning of a United States flagged vessels.
Workers who meet these eligibility requirements have the right to file a personal injury claim hold the right to file a personal injury claim under the Jones Act for injuries sustained while performing job duties of offshore employment. The statute of limitations is three years from the date of injury. Meaning, a worker must file a claim within three years of the injury or forever lose the ability to file such a claim for that injury.
VESSELS AND THE JONES ACT
Compensation for damages under the Jones Act is only available to maritime workers who are injured on vessels operating on navigable waters. Therefore, the definition of a vessel is critical. The Jones Act does not offer a detailed definition of vessels that qualify under the Jones Act. The definition comes from many Admiralty cases over the last 100 years. The definition is very broad.
Under the Jones Act, a vessel is any type of watercraft or artificial contrivance used, or practically capable of being used, as a means of maritime transportation. If you are on any type of work platform that floats and is capable of being moved, it may be considered a vessel for purposes of the Jones Act. The definition of vessel under the Jones Act is very broad. Vessels that are docked or anchored may still be considered vessels under the Act. Any of the following vessels may qualify under the Jones Act: cargo ships, cruise ships, ferries, tug boats, commercial fishing boats, drilling ships, oil platforms and barges. Nearly any structure that is capable of floating on navigable waters may be considered a vessel under the Jones Act. The most important factor in determining whether the structure is a vessel under the Jones Act is how it was being used at the time of the maritime worker’s injury.
GROUNDS FOR FILING A JONES ACT CLAIM IN FLORIDA
The Jones Act makes it possible for injured seamen, or family members, to recover monetary compensation when acts of negligence, or omissions, cause injury or death. Examples of negligent acts, or omissions, include the following:
· Failing to provide reasonably safe working conditions. Maritime employers and vessel owners must provide safe and properly maintained equipment, safe walkways and proper equipment for performing duties. Further, seamen must also be provided proper training and also require other crewmembers to follow safety rules.
· Requiring maritime workers to perform dangerous duties or employ unsafe methods. If onboard personnel are asked to perform dangerous duties or use unsafe methods, the employer can be held liable for injuries sustained.
· Deviations from ordinary course of conduct. If there are ordinary methods by duties onboard the vessel are and another crewmember strayed from those ordinary methods, causing injury or death of another crewmember may be grounds for filing a Jones Act claim.
· Failing to provide appropriate medical care following an injury. An injured maritime worker who did not receive proper medical care following an injury may obtain compensation under the Jones Act.
· Failing to warn maritime workers of known dangerous conditions aboard. All seamen must be informed of known hazardous conditions aboard the vessel.
· Unseaworthiness of vessels. This form of negligence under the Jones Act involves the condition of the vessel, the crew on the vessel and the equipment used by workers on the vessel that makes it unfit for its intended purpose. Under U.S. maritime law, a seaworthy vessel is a ship with a hull, crew and equipment reasonably satisfactory in design, maintenance and character to perform its intended functions in the operation of the vessel.
CAUSATION UNDER THE JONES ACT
In regular negligence cases, such as motorcycle or car accidents, an injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence or carelessness caused the damages. Under the U.S. Jones Act, a seaman’s burden for proving causation is significantly lower. In order to prove causation under the Jones Act, the injured maritime worker must only prove that the maritime employer’s negligence played any part, no matter how minor, to the maritime worker’s injuries.
For more information about the Jones Act and our maritime practice, contact us day or night at 800-650-1243.