Maritime and Jones Act

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Maritime and Jones Act

Maritime and Jones Act Lawyers

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, can help oil rig workers, longshoremen, shipbuilders and others who work offshore get compensated for medical expenses and lost wages when they are injured, regardless of fault. In the U.S., maritime law consists of numerous laws that are aimed at regulating the offshore industry. But if you want the best outcome, you will need a maritime injury and Jones Act lawyer on your side.

Admiralty law grants injured maritime workers compensation for the costs of living and for medical care, regardless of fault. This is typically known as “maintenance and cure” to those in the industry. This allows injured workers to get the help they need instead of missing work, losing income and incurring medical expenses.

Typically, workers can receive maintenance and cure even if the injury was their fault. There are exceptions – if the injury was sustained in a drunken brawl with a co-worker, for instance.

In addition to the Jones Act, there are other important pieces of legislation that address the rights of maritime workers.

  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, passed in 1927, expanded some of the protections under the Jones Act to include those who work at ports and harbors. Previously, these workers had few legal protections and could be thrown into serious debt and turmoil if hurt on the job.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act allows the dependents of a maritime employee killed on the job to seek damages from the employer if the company’s negligence led to the death. These families have lost not only a loved one – they have often lost a steady source of income. The future may be uncertain. A maritime injury lawyer can get these families what they need to move forward with life

Don’t settle for an attorney who has never handled a maritime law or Jones Act case before. Demand a maritime lawyer with a proven record of success handling these claims in Texas. At Pierce | Skrabanek we have the results to show we are committed and experienced maritime attorneys. We have obtained millions of dollars in verdicts for workers injured offshore – including a $16.9 million verdict for an injured maritime worker.

There is no cost to speak with an attorney about your options. Find out if we can help you file a maritime injury claim and seek the maximum compensation available under the law.

What is the Jones Act?

The Marine Merchant Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, protects the rights of an injured maritime worker to sue the employer and have his or her day in court. It also allows the loved ones of someone who dies on the job to seek damages. Under the law, a case must be brought within three years of the injury.

General admiralty law entitles an injured worker to have his or her medical expenses and cost of living paid. But the Jones Act can provide for additional compensation if the owner of the vessel was negligent in a way that caused the injury.

The Jones Act applies to most employees who work at sea, including:

The Jones Act does not apply to those who work at port, such as shipbuilders, mechanics and those who work at harbors and on docks. But these employees are not without rights under maritime law. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act can protect these workers.

The job of a Jones Act and maritime lawyer is to make sure that you aren’t shortchanged when you or a loved one is hurt while working at sea or at port. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you deserve everything you are entitled to under the law and no less.

Sometimes, it requires an attorney to make sure that happens.

Seeking Compensation for Punitive Damages

The Jones Act establishes a requirement that vessels be “seaworthy” – meaning free of reasonably foreseeable dangers. It is the duty of an employer to maintain a seaworthy boat. No one should have to work on an unseaworthy vessel.

To seek compensation for suffering, you must prove that your employer failed to live up to the standards set by law. This typically requires hiring a maritime injury lawyer to handle your Jones Act lawsuit.

Here are just a few examples of negligence that can lead to injury and a successful Jones Act case:

  • Improperly maintained machinery
  • Lack of safety devices
  • Insufficient training
  • Understaffing
  • Mandating excessive work hours
  • Hiring unqualified employees

Compensation that can be collected under the Jones Act includes:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

If a maritime worker dies on the job, his or her family may also seek compensation for funeral expenses and the loss of future income.

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Does the Jones Act Apply to Cruise Ships?

People who are injured on a cruise ship also have a right to seek compensation if the company that owns the vessel is at fault. The cruise ship company has what’s called a “duty of reasonable care,” which means the company must keep the ship free of reasonable hazards that could injure a worker or passenger. This could include anything from a slippery floor to a broken staircase.

If you are injured while on a cruise ship, you should speak to a maritime attorney about whether you are eligible to seek compensation.

The Responsibilities of a Maritime Employer

It is the legal duty of an employer to provide employees with a reasonable safe work place. There are inherent dangers when it comes to working at sea – but that doesn’t mean injuries couldn’t have been prevented if the company lived up to its responsibility.

No one deserves to work in a hazardous workplace. Employers must keep machinery and equipment up to date, be sure employees are qualified for the tasks they perform and be sure the workplace is free of foreseeable hazards – like broken stairway rails or busted safety gear.

What to Do If You Are Injured in an Offshore Accident

There are several things you should do if hurt on the job while on an oil rig, ship or any other vessel.

  • First and foremost, get medical attention.
  • Take pictures of the scene and your injuries, if possible.
  • Note who witnessed the incident and get their contact information.
  • Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
  • Do not sign anything or discuss the specifics of the accident with anyone but your doctor and your attorney.
  • Once your injury has been reported and your medical needs are tended to, call the offshore injury lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek.

Obviously, some of these may be impossible if the injury is particularly severe. But any attorney will tell you it’s best to err on the side of too much evidence rather than too little.


Read what our past clients have to say about our legal services. 

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Get a Maritime Injury Attorney

Maritime law is a complex legal field that calls for attorneys who are diligent, meticulous and committed. At Pierce | Skrabanek we are those lawyers. We’re prepared to help workers on oil rigs, shipping vessels, barges and ports from Texas and the Gulf Coast get the compensation that will help them and their families after they are hurt on the job.

A consultation with a maritime injury attorney is always free. There is no obligation on your part. Call us today at (832) 690-7200 or email us for a free case evaluation to have your questions answered and learn your legal options.

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