Jones Act Claims Lawyer in Houston
Personal Injury Representation for Seamen
If you are a maritime or offshore worker, the Jones Act is vital to you as an employee. The Jones Act is formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This is a body of federal regulations that dictates what is known as "cabotage" or the transportation of goods between ports throughout the United States. Most important about the Jones Act for workers are the provisions dealing with seaman's rights in the workplace. The Jones Act is similar in some ways to workers' compensation. It protects injured seaman and allows them to recover financial damages for injuries that they suffer in conjunction with their job duties.
If you work in the maritime or offshore industry and you were injured on the job, you may have a Jones Act claim. To learn more about your right to representation, get in touch with a Houston personal injury attorney at Stern Law Group.
Who Qualifies for Protection Under the Jones Act?
Not everyone who works offshore will qualify for protection under the Jones Act; one must meet certain qualifications of a Jones Act seaman.
There are three basic requirements:
- A seaman must work on a U.S. flagged (Jones Act) ship
- A seaman must spend a considerable amount of time on said ship
- A seaman must be integral to the ship's operation
The Jones Act itself is somewhat vague on who exactly qualifies as a Jones Act seaman; it simply states that the worker must be assigned to a vessel that meets Jones Act requirements and that worker must contribute to the ship's function. This contribution must be "substantial" which may also be up for interpretation. Due to the ambiguity of this statute, it is wise to procure the help of a maritime attorney.
If you are unsure about your status as a seaman, you can seek legal counsel from Stern Law Group. Should you qualify as a seaman, you are entitled to rights under the Jones Act, which could include filing a Jones Act claim after a work-related injury or illness. According to 46 U.S.C. § 688(a), "Any sailor who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right to trial by jury." Not only can seamen bring claims of negligence, they can also claim that the vessel they were employed on was "unseaworthy." This would also be considered the fault of the employer for failing to provide safe working conditions.
Dangers of Working in the Offshore Industry
The offshore and maritime industry is one of the most physically-grueling and dangerous occupations in the United States. Workers are often asked to deal with heavy equipment such as drilling rigs, heavy piping and cranes, all of which have the potential to cause serious damage and even death. When ships are not properly maintained, and an injury results, workers could be entitled to compensation due to a claim of unseaworthiness. In other words, if a ship did not meet the standards of "seaworthiness" and a seaman was injured as a result, the seaman could recover compensation in a claim against its employer.
Another possible area of compensation could come by way of a maintenance and cure claim. With this type of claim, a worker could recover compensation from their employer in the total amount that would cover a seaman's day-to-day living expenses in addition to medical costs. Until the injured worker is fully restored so that they can return to work, the employer will have to continue to pay maintenance and cure benefits.
Call Stern Law Group's Houston Maritime Injury Lawyers Today!
If you would like to learn more about the Jones Act and whether you are eligible for compensation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Stern Law Group. An accident and ensuing injury may have rendered you unable to work for some time. You may be wondering who is going to pay for your medical expenses or how you are going to provide for your family while you are out of work. Allow our team to put your mind at ease by helping you understand your rights and options.
Get started by calling our office at (877) 661-9900.