The Jones Act was put in place to protect seamen injured on the job. This law allows injured seamen to file a lawsuit against their employers to recover compensation.
As you can imagine, maritime employers often fight back against Jones Act lawsuits to avoid compensating their injured employees. That is why it is essential to learn about Jones Act claims before you file. Below you can find five facts about Jones Act claims you must know. If you have questions or think you have a case against a negligent maritime employer, reach out to the Houston Jones Act attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C.
Call (281) 283-8500 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll explain your options and the next steps. There’s no cost unless you recover compensation.
1. How To Prove a Jones Act Claim
For your Jones Act claim to be successful – meaning it recovers the compensation you need – you will need to be able to prove it. More specifically, you will need to prove that your employer was negligent. And that negligence must have been the cause of your injury.
These are precisely the same things you would need to prove in a standard personal injury lawsuit. But there is a crucial difference: The burden of proof for Jones Act claims is lower than it is for personal injury claims. In a personal injury claim, you would need to show that the defendant’s negligence played a big part in your injuries. In a Jones Act claim, you need only prove that your employer’s negligence played a role.
2. Are You Eligible?
Not everyone who works on or near the water is eligible to file a Jones Act claim. To be eligible, you have to qualify as a “seaman” under the law. This is a specific legal term. A seaman can be anyone who works aboard a waterborne vessel. But they have to spend at least 30% of their time working on the vessel. Any less than that, and you likely won’t qualify to file a Jones Act claim.
3. Does Your Vessel Qualify for a Jones Act Claim?
Just because it’s shaped like a ship or used to be on the water does not mean it qualifies as a “vessel” under the Jones Act. For you to file a Jones Act claim, your injury must have occurred on a vessel that is “in navigation.” That means your ship cannot have stopped operating or be dry-docked. However, it does not mean the vessel has to be out at sea the entire time you are on it.
4. You Have a Limited Amount of Time To File
Like personal injury claims, Jones Act claims are subject to a time limit called the statute of limitations. You have only three years from the date of your injury to file your claim.
5. A Fast Settlement May Not Be a Good One
Once you file your Jones Act claim, you may be excited to get a settlement offer from your employer or their insurer almost instantly. While a financial settlement is what you are after, don’t act too quickly. Many insurers and companies like to offer a fast settlement to prevent injured seamen from hiring a maritime injury lawyer.
Why? Because they know that a lawyer will see that the settlement they have offered is far too low to cover your damages. In many cases, it’s better to speak with an attorney and get a full picture of what you are owed before accepting a settlement offer.
Speak With a Houston Maritime Lawyer
Don’t get overwhelmed by the prospect of filing a Jones Act claim. We understand. It isn’t easy –especially when you’re injured. But The Krist Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. With decades of experience and some of the largest maritime awards in the state, our Houston Jones Act lawyers can take you step-by-step to the result and compensation you need.