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Employer Responsibilities Under Jones Act Law


Jones Act law protects seamen, sailors, and other maritime workers while they’re on the job. Under the Jones Act, employers may be liable for injuries caused by their negligence and thus have a responsibility to provide a safe, hazard-free working environment for employees. Failure to do so could lead to worker injury and, subsequently, the maritime employer’s liability for damages. A Louisiana Jones Act lawyer can help file the claim.

Pursuing an Injury Claim for Maritime Employer Liability Under Jones Act Law

offshore platformIf an employer fails to meet its responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace for its employees and a worker is subsequently injured, killed or otherwise harmed, a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer may help workers file a claim of maritime employer liability under Jones Act law.

In a Jones Act claim, the worker may seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages. If the worker is killed in the line of duty, the deceased’s family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act.

Meanwhile, under general maritime law, employers are automatically responsible for providing injured workers with maintenance and cure benefits, which pay for the worker’s medical bills and provide a daily stipend while recovering from their injury. These damages are generally much less than what may be recovered under Jones Act law.

My employer asked me to complete a dangerous task and I did it anyway, causing me to be injured – can I still collect Jones Act damages?

If you are working on a boat or other sea vessel and your boss asks you to do a task that you know is dangerous and may cause you harm, but you do it anyway and become injured, you may still be able to collect Jones Act damages; however, because of something called “comparative negligence” the amount you can recover may be lessened or limited. Comparative negligence refers to a victim’s responsibility in an accident. In order to maximize the amount of your damages, you should consult a Jones Act attorney.

Many employers will try to show that a worker behaved in a negligent manner in an effort to decrease the amount they will have to pay out in Jones Act damages; however, they will have the burden of proof in showing that an employee contributed to their injury.

Even if it is proven that a maritime worker was in some way responsible for an accident that caused them to be hurt, they can still collect compensation for their injuries and other damages such as lost wages, emotional distress, and other related expenses.
 
Because the law can be applied and interpreted many different ways, it is important to enlist the professional help of a Jones Act attorney should you decide to pursue legal action after an injury on a boat or other sea vessel. You may only have limited time to collect Jones Act damages so it is important not to wait too long after an injury to file a claim.

Grounds for Filing a Jones Act Claim

In order to file a Jones Act claim and seek damages after a seaman has been injured, it must be proven that employer negligence played a part in the incident to argue maritime employer liability.

Some forms of negligence can include:

  • failing to properly maintain equipment, appliances, and the vessel;
  • failing to inspect the ship;
  • requiring workers to complete dangerous duties or use unsafe methods;
  • failing to warn workers of known hazards or dangerous conditions on the ship;
  • inadequate training or incompetent crew members;
  • failing to fix known hazards or defective equipment;
  • failing to set proper safety procedures or regulations; and
  • failing to provide adequate medical care after an injury.

Unseaworthiness can also be used as grounds for a claim under Jones Act law. If the vessel the seaman was working on at the time of the injury can be deemed unseaworthy, this also may entitle the victim to compensation from an employer or ship owner. If there are questions regarding eligibility to file a claim, injured seamen can consult a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer.

Proving Maritime Employer Liability with a Louisiana Jones Act Lawyer

In order for an injured worker to prove their employer did not live up to its responsibilities regarding worker safety and to file a legal claim, the worker must be able to successfully prove four items.

The following four items must prove that:

  • the worker is considered a seaman (generally, his or her work contributes to the ship’s overall function and the worker spends at least 30 percent of his or her time on a vessel);
  • the worker was injured while employed;
  • the employer was negligent; and
  • the negligence directly caused or contributed to the injury.

Seamen and maritime workers who have been hurt on the job can set up a consultation with a Louisiana Jones Act lawyer to review their case details and eligibility to file a claim for maritime employer liability under Jones Act law.

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