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Family of missing crewman sues ship owners under the Jones Act

If you're on a factory floor and a forklift drives over your foot, you know where to go. One should seek medical attention, document the incident and possibly file a claim for workers' compensation. But if a similar thing happens on the deck of a ship in the Long Island Sound, what do you do?

In much the same way that workers' compensation laws protect employees in that state, the Jones Act covers maritime workers based in the United States but in territorial or international waters. This includes crew members on ships at sea as well in riverine waters within the United States. It also includes dockworkers, shipbreakers and a variety of other professions connected to sea trade.

The family of a man who is presumed dead after the collision of two towing vessels in the Mississippi River is suing the operators of both vessels under the Jones Act. The suit includes the claim that neither ship was seaworthy, and the incident that caused the loss of life should never have happened.

The collision occurred when one vessel linked up with barges and headed upriver when it hit the other vessel. Four crew members of the latter ship went missing; only one was found. The others are presumed dead. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Victims of accidents on board ships and the survivors of crew fatalities may consider a lawsuit under the Jones Act. An attorney can help review the details of an incident and consider the possible financial damages that can be claimed with a suit.

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