Those who make their living in maritime industries are exposed to all kinds of hazardous conditions, which means that even a single moment of recklessness or carelessness by an employer or fellow worker could have serious consequences. However, if you get hurt while working on a navigable maritime vessel, your options for pursuing compensation are a little different than those available to land-based workers.
Instead of state workers’ compensation or personal injury laws, workers who are classified as seamen can pursue restitution for on-the-job injuries through a piece of federal legislation called the Jones Act. Working with an Olive Branch Jones Act lawyer like Elissa M. Coombs could be key to ensuring you meet the qualifying criteria for these claims and can maximize the amount of compensation you can hold your employer accountable for.
When is a Jones Act Claim Possible?
Federal law grants seamen who suffer injury while performing job-related duties the right to file suit directly against their employer under certain circumstances. In this context, a “seaman” is someone who spends at least 30 percent of their time working aboard, around, or in service of a navigable maritime vessel.
For a seaman to have grounds for a Jones Act claim, they must have gotten hurt in the course of employment while their vessel was “in navigation” in navigable waters, which can be anything from oceans to rivers to inland lakes that allow for travel by working boats. Notably, a vessel does not necessarily have to be moving to be considered “in navigation.” As long as the vessel is floating and capable of traveling, it is “in navigation” even while docked.
A successful Jones Act claim hinges on an injured seaman’s ability to prove that negligence by their employer or a third party was the direct cause of their injuries. Specifically, negligence entails someone doing—or not doing—something contrary to what a reasonable person with similar training and experience would have done under the circumstances. That often means not taking reasonable safety precautions to protect workers from harm. An Olive Branch Jones Act attorney could offer further clarification about eligibility for this type of litigation during a free private meeting.
Recoverable Damages in Jones Act Claims
Unlike traditional claims filed under workers’ compensation systems, Jones Act claims allow injured seaman to recover for both economic and non-economic forms of harm. Recoverable damages may include but are not strictly limited to:
- All medical expenses, including the costs of physical and emotional therapy, medical equipment, in-home care, and travel expenses for doctors’ appointments
- Wages lost while not working due to injury
- Future earning capacity lost due to a permanent disability or disfigurement
- Physical pain from injuries
- Emotional suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life
It is important to get started on a Jones Act claim as quickly as possible following an incident and it may be best to retain a Jones Act lawyer in Olive Branch immediately after seeking emergency medical care for an injury on the water.
Speak with an Olive Branch Jones Act Attorney to Recover Compensation
The Jones Act allows seamen to hold employers and other individuals financially liable for accidents on the river. However, this does not mean that filing a claim is a simple process or that you will have good odds of a favorable outcome if you try to pursue your case alone.
Working with Elissa M. Coombs, an Olive Branch Jones Act lawyer, is essential to getting you the compensation that you and your family need. To learn more, call today and set up a consultation with the Law Office of David E. Gordon.