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Do I Have a Claim Under the Jones Act?

January 17, 2022 Jones Act Claims

If you work on a boat, ship, barge or other vessel, there is a good chance that you have heard about the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that protects maritime and offshore workers, and it is extremely common for these workers to get injured on the job. Your coworkers may have filed claims under the Jones Act, or you may have heard about others filing Jones Act claims. If you now need to know about your rights, keep reading for an overview from Miami maritime lawyer Keith Brais:

Who Qualifies to File a Claim Under the Jones Act?

The Jones Act applies specifically to offshore and other maritime employees who work onboard vessels in navigation. For purposes of the statute, a vessel is considered “in navigation” if it is:

  • Afloat,
  • In operation,
  • Capable of moving, and
  • On navigable waters.

If you work onboard a vessel in navigation and your job duties “contribute[] to the work of the vessel,” you are considered a “seaman” under the Jones Act, and you can file a claim (or possibly multiple claims) under the statute if you get injured on the job.

While many maritime accidents occur in the open water or offshore—and while the Jones Act refers to vessels “in navigation”—your vessel doesn’t have to be underway in order for you to have rights under the statute. If the vessel is capable of moving and located on navigable waters, this is enough. For example, let’s say you work on a fishing vessel and you get injured while unloading a catch. Even though the vessel was moored when you got injured, you would still likely have a claim under the Jones Act.

What Types of Accidents Does the Jones Act Cover?

Similar to state workers’ compensation laws, the Jones Act covers all types of work-related accidents. If you got caught in a line, if a piece of equipment malfunctioned, if a coworker made a mistake, or even if you simply slipped and fell, these are all circumstances in which Jones Act compensation should be available to you. While some types of Jones Act claims require proof of fault, seamen can collect maintenance and cure benefits under the statute on a “no-fault” basis.

What if I Don’t Have a Claim Under the Jones Act?

What if you don’t qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act? If you don’t have a claim under the Jones Act, you may qualify to file a claim under another law. For example, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) applies to maritime workers who are based onshore, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) applies to offshore workers on fixed rigs and platforms.

Talk to a Miami Maritime Lawyer About Your Legal Rights

If you need to know more about your legal rights after a maritime accident, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at Brais Law Firm. Call 800-499-0551 or send us a message online to speak with a Miami maritime lawyer today