Jones Act & Maritime Law FAQs

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Q: What is the Jones Act?

A: The Jones Act is federal legislation that was created to protect American workers who are injured at sea. It is also referred to as the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920.” The law allows qualifying sailors who have been involved in accidents while performing or who have become ill while performing their duties to collect compensation from employers.

Q: What is general maritime law?

A: General maritime law is the set of rules and laws that were put in place to secure and outline the rights of seamen before other, more specific laws were enacted.

Q: What are the basic provisions of general maritime law?

A: The basic provisions state that workers must be given maintenance and cure payments for lost earnings for injury received on the job. It also states that employers must provide workers with a safe work environment, and that if they fail to do so, they will be held liable.

Q: How do I know if I am covered under the Jones Act?

A: Three-point status factors determine if the seaman qualifies or not. The first is a seaman status test, which means the vessel assignment, contribution and connection. This test basically determines if the seaman is covered by the act based on his own qualifications. The seaman must then be able to determine the nature of the injury to see if it qualifies. If the injury is the result of negligence on the part of the ship owner, and the seaman qualifies as a Jones Act seaman, he may pursue the case.

Q: What is a Jones Act vessel?

A: Where a vessel qualifies as a Jones Act vessel may be hard to determine, but generally, if the ship is a cruise boat, tugboat, cargo ship or barge, it is considered a Jones Act vessel and qualifies under the Jones Act.

Q: How long do I have to file my claim?

A: When filing a claim, you generally have a total of three years from the time of the injury, barring special circumstances that can be determined by the court at the time that the claim is filed.

Q: What type of claim is handled under the Jones Act?

A: Several different types of injury are covered. For the employer to be held liable, the injury must be a result of negligence on the part of the employer. The injured employee must also have notified the employer within 30 days of the injury in order for it to qualify.

Q: What is maintenance and cure?

A: “Maintenance and cure” refers to the medical treatment, cure and the amount of money that it takes to continue living in the manner to which you are accustomed. These must be paid by the employer until the seaman is fit to return to work if the injury has been deemed the fault of the employer.

Q: What are the damages that can be recovered under the Jones Act?

A: Damages that can be collected are medical bills, daily living expenses, lost or back wages, attorney fees, and, in some cases, even punitive damages.

Q: What is maximum medical improvement?

A: This is the plateau or most improvement that can be attained in a specified amount of time. Establishing a maximum amount protects the employer from having to pay benefits indefinitely.

Q: What are my rights as an injured offshore worker?

A: As an injured offshore worker, you have the right to an attorney, and you have the right to get your medical benefits paid. You also have the right not to talk to someone after an accident.

Q: What is an unseaworthiness claim?

A: An “unseaworthiness” claim is a claim based on the fact that a person was injured as a result of conditions on the vessel on which they were working. This is basically a claim that the vessel is not safe and should be investigated to prevent further injury.

Q: I am not a Jones Act seaman; what law applies to my case?

A: General maritime law is the overarching law that applies to all seamen. It is for this reason that it is used in cases in which the Jones Act does not apply.

Why You Should Contact a Maritime Injury Lawyer

Q: Why do I need a Jones Act and maritime injury lawyer?

A: Both the Jones Act and maritime law are confusing to those who are not well versed in them or who have not had proper training in how to read and deal with them. Though you might feel as if you have a firm grasp on both the act and law, the only people who can provide you with the quality information and defense that you need are attorneys who have handled both Jones Act and maritime law cases.

Q: How much is my Jones Act or maritime injury case worth?

A: The potential value is another reason you need an experienced lawyer on your side. The overall value of your case varies by the individual circumstances surrounding it. You should take the time to talk with a professional Jones Act and maritime law attorney to receive the most compensation for your claim.

Q: How do I get benefits paid as quickly as possible?

A: The key is to get your claim filed and taken care of as soon as possible. You should contact a lawyer as soon as you are injured, so you can begin to file your case and get the benefits and compensation that you need and deserve.

Q: What should I do if I am injured?

A: Firstly, if you are able, fill out an accident report on site and be sure to identify the unsafe condition(s) that led to your injury. You then need to make sure you get medical attention. After getting the necessary medical attention, you should contact a maritime or Jones Act lawyer immediately, so we can begin to fill out the necessary claims and get your claim reviewed. After review, we can begin to fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.

Q: Can I afford a maritime lawyer?

A: Cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless you get paid.

Q: Do I qualify for medical benefits?

A: If you were injured in the course of employment because of an unsafe condition, you qualify for medical benefits, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve until you reach maximum medical improvement.

Q: If I qualify for medical benefits, how do I get paid?

A: Medical benefits will generally be paid immediately, but if they stall, you may need the help of your maritime or Jones Act lawyer to obtain the payment you deserve.

Q: Can I recover benefits if I was injured during a recreational activity?

A: Yes, you can, if the accident was due to the negligence of another person or unsafe conditions.

Q: How can a Jones Act attorney help me?

A: Jones Act attorneys are experienced and can help you collect and organize the data that you need to make your case sound. They can also help you file your claim and fight for your rights in court so that you get the compensation that you deserve to help pay for your injuries and lost wages because of the negligence of another party.

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