Jones Act Death Attorney for Maritime Workers

The Jones Act provides a remedy for the wrongful death of a seaman or crewmember that dies due to the negligence of an employer, ship’s master, or fellow crewmember. Having previously represented shipping, cruise line, and marine insurance companies for 19 years, the board-certified Jones Act death attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm are in a unique position to protect the families of seamen, crew members, and certain oil field workers. The Jones Act death attorneys at the Brais Law Firm, with offices in Miami, Florida, are here to help families nationwide of seamen, crew members, and certain oil field workers due to an accident causing death. There is no Jones Act “negligence” remedy for unseaworthiness. If the event causing death occurs beyond the territorial waters of any State or U.S. territory, the seaman’s representative may also bring an action for unseaworthiness under DOHSA. If the event causing death occurs within territorial waters, the crew member’s representative may join with the Jones Act negligence claim, a general maritime wrongful death claim for unseaworthiness. The Jones Act wrongful death & survival lawsuit must be brought by the estate’s personal representative against only the seaman/crewmember’s employer.

The Supreme Court Protects Your Right to a Wrongful Death Action

If you have lost a loved one working as a seaman or another maritime industry occupation covered by the Jones Act, you have a right to bring a wrongful death claim. The Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Dutra Group v. Batterton provided protections for the rights of the surviving families of seamen killed to bring both a wrongful death action and a survival action. Knowing whether or not case law applies to your situation and whether you are guaranteed certain remedies by it will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Each Jones Act death attorney at Brais Law is prepared to put the firm’s decades of combined experience in maritime law to work on your behalf. We will carefully assess the circumstances of the accident or incident that led to the loss of your loved one to identify the best course of action to take in support of recovering full damages on your behalf. 

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Unseaworthiness May Support a Wrongful Death Claim

Through the Jones Act, as clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court, personal injury claims can be rooted in the unseaworthiness of a vessel. Survival claims function in much the same way as personal injury claims in that they take on the perspective of the injured person.

The recovery in a survival claim will be for the pain and suffering, medical costs, and other potential damages that the deceased seaman would have been able to bring had they survived. 

The concept of a cause of action based on a lacking ship was in place before the Jones Act, and again reinforced by it through subsequent case law. Ship owners have an obligation to maintain the safety of the vessels they operate, both for the safety of other ships as well as the workers on their vessels who are driving them forward. Failure to maintain the safety of equipment or the ship itself that results in injury can result in liability; however, it is essential that the law be properly applied to the case to support the outcome of the claim. 

Working with a Jones Act death attorney at Brais Law takes the stress of collecting evidence, drafting your claim, and negotiating with the insurance company out of your life. Learning how to navigate the wrongful death claim process while mourning the loss of your loved one and trying to get you and your family’s life back on track can be difficult. Taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of your Jones Act death attorney will help support your pursuit of proper compensation and drastically decrease the stress linked to the claims process. 

Punitive Damages May be Available in Unseaworthiness Claims

If you lost a loved one as a result of an accident caused by the unseaworthiness of a vessel, you could be entitled not only to a wrongful death claim but also punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to both punish a wrongful actor for their choices and to also discourage such behavior in the industry in general. When ship owners knowingly endanger seamen by putting them to work on vessels that are not seaworthy, they will be liable for any resulting injuries or death that result. 


Jones Act Death Attorney

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Action Under The Jones Act?

Who Can Be Beneficiaries Under the Jones Act?

When Must I File a Jones Act Claim?

What Types of Damages are Recoverable Under A Jones Act Death Claim?

What Types of Damages are NOT Recoverable Under Jones Act Death Claim?

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Action Under The Jones Act?

The personal representative of a seaman/crewmember who died may bring a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act on behalf of the surviving widow or husband and children; and, if none, then the decedent’s parents; and, if none, then the next of kin dependent upon the deceased seaman.

Who Can Be Beneficiaries Under the Jones Act?

The Jones Act allows recovery on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries. Beneficiaries have been determined to include:

  • Surviving spouse: A wife or husband married to the decedent at the time of death. Common law spouses (as long as their common law marriage complies with the applicable state law) have been held to be a surviving spouses. Divorced spouses, however, are not deemed to be beneficiaries.
  • Children: Biological children as well as stepchildren who have suffered pecuniary losses due to the death have been held to be beneficiaries.
  • Parents: Dependent parents are considered beneficiaries. Non-dependent parents, however, are not beneficiaries.
  • Siblings: Siblings who are dependent on the decedent may be deemed dependents.

When Must I File a Jones Act Claim?

For wrongful death cases under the Jones Act, a claim must be filed within three years of the date of death.

What Types of Damages are Recoverable Under A Jones Act Death Claim?

Unlike DOHSA, the Jones Act provides both wrongful death and survival remedies. Under this theory, the following damages are available:

  • Financial Support and Contribution: The financial contributions that the decedent would have made to his spouse and dependents over the course of his/her work life expectancy less any amount determined to be for the care and maintenance of the decedent personally.
  • Loss of Services: The monetary value of services the decedent would have provided to the beneficiaries around the home.
  • Nurture to Dependent Children: The value of care, guidance and training to the decedent’s children.
  • Funeral Expenses: Funeral expenses are allowed to the point actually paid by the beneficiaries.
  • Pre-Death Pain and Suffering: Monitory value of the conscious pain and suffering caused by the negligent act the decedent felt prior to his death are recoverable under the survival provisions of the Jones Act.
  • Lost Past & Future Wages: Wages lost over the course of his/her work life expectancy unless DOHSA applies.
  • Pre-Death Medical Expenses: Out-of-pocket expenses paid towards the decedent’s medical expenses.

What Types of Damages are NOT Recoverable Under Jones Act Death Claim?

Like DOHSA, a wrongful death Jones Act claim is limited to pecuniary losses, to wit:

  • Loss of Society and Consortium are not recoverable.
  • The Decedent’s Loss Future Earnings are not recoverable when DOHSA applies.
  • Punitive Damages are not recoverable.

Obtain Help Today From A Maritime Board Certified Jones Act Death Attorney

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., call 305-790-4600 with Florida or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.

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