The Jones Act - Federal Protection for Workers Injured at Sea

Injury Lawyer for Seamen, Offshore Oil Rig, Dock & Maritime Workers

Most of the time when someone is hurt at work in New Orleans the injury is covered by their workers’ compensation policy, which employers have to carry under Louisiana State Law. “Seaman” (workers on most types of boats, off-shore oil rigs and docks) are instead covered under a federal law called the Jones Act. If you were hurt at work while working on some type of vessel or in a job related to boats / shipping / docks in some way, you may have a claim under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act was first established as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and was initially created to allow a “seaman” to collect damages for being injured while working. As a result of the Jones Act, a worker who was injured at sea would be able to recover wages and other benefits from their employer.

Since 1920, the language has not been expanded beyond simply referring to an injured “seaman”. In years since, courts have interpreted that to mean any person who is employed on a vessel in navigable waters or someone who spends at least 30% of their time working aboard a vessel and whose duties contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission.

Am I Eligible to File for Compensation Under the Jones Act?

If you work on a vessel like one listed below, or work on the rivers, canals or seaports, Rick Ely can help you learn if your injury is protected by the Jones Act. Boats where the workers would be covered by the Jones Act include:

  • Container, grain, tanker or other types of ships
  • Offshore Oil Rigs
  • Drill Ships
  • Barges, Tug Boats & Crew boats
  • Fishing boats

There are three basic elements that need to be in place for an injured sea-worker to be able to file a claim under the Jones Act.

  1. Must establish that you were working for the defendant and acting in the scope of your employment. This means that what you were doing when you were injured needs to be a required part of your job.
  2. An element of negligence on the part of the employer/ship-owner.
  3. The employer’s negligence, no matter how slight, must have contributed to or caused the injury.

How Do I File a Claim Under the Jones Act?

Sea and longshore workers have a different relationship with their employers than most do. In the case of an injury, seeking medical treatment is difficult when you’re on a boat. You need to go through the normal channels of reporting the injury. There is also a few potential pitfalls on the actual accident report. For example, the report may ask you if the company was at fault. It’s important that you either report the company’s fault, or if you are uncomfortable you can say you don’t know. Then, once you are off the boat and working with an attorney who can protect your rights, you can complete the accident report.

Contact Rick Ely for a free initial consultation to find out more about your options:

If you were hurt at a job having to do with waterways, ports or in the Gulf itself, contact Ely Law for a free initial consultation. He will answer your questions about how Maritime law applies to your situation and give you options for moving forward.

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While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.