April 17th, 2023
Maritime Injuries and the Jones Act
Maritime injuries refer to incidents in which a person is injured while working on navigable waters. U.S. maritime law governs the liability of shipping companies for negligence-based injuries that occur “at sea,” which comprises both the coastal sea as well as inland lakes and rivers.
The United States has developed a system of maritime law to support consistency and reduce the complexity of jurisdictional issues in an industry involving inter-state activities. National maritime rules mean that many shipping injuries are not remedied through any state’s workers’ compensation program. Otherwise, states bordering the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers or within the Great Lakes region would be hampered with conflicting laws and procedures for resolving maritime injuries.
The Jones Act (or the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920”) is a U.S. federal statute that regulates maritime commerce. Among many other functions, the law protects workers by providing a civil remedy for employment-based injuries at sea. An employee injured while on duty within a vessel on the Ohio River can file suit in state or federal court under the Jones Act for injuries.
However, the Jones Act only applies to individuals who qualify as a “seaman” under the Act’s definition. The specific requirements for qualifying workers involve considering the type of vessel, the worker’s role and responsibilities, and the amount of time the worker spends on the vessel. Note that the remedies available under the Jones Act may exceed those available under your state’s workers’ compensation program.
If you have been injured while working as a crew member on navigable waters, we’d be happy to discuss your claim. Call today.