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Understanding the Jones Act and the claims filing process

Marine injuries happen more often than workers may realize. These injuries can be caused by slips and falls, equipment errors, explosions and other impactful incidents.

These cause workers to suffer cuts, bruises and broken bones or in more serious situations, burns, hearing damage and even brain damage.

These injuries can cause the employee to miss work while he or she heals or may cause them to lose their income entirely, depending on the severity of the injury. This can be devastating for the worker and the family members that may rely on the worker for support.

Jones Act

The Jones Act applies to private mariners involved in the import or export of goods in commercial settings. Because employees at sea are not covered by traditional workers compensation protections, this act provides an option for these employees to bring a lawsuit against their employer for their injuries.

It covers masters, captains, officers and crew members who spend at least 30 percent of their work time on a vessel in navigation, meaning that it is afloat, operational, capable of moving and is on navigable waters.

The employer is required to provide a reasonably safe working environment. When the employer fails to do so, the employee can file a claim and the employer may be held liable.

Filing a claim

Generally, the process for filing a claim involves the employee reporting the injury to his or her supervisor, completing an accident report detailing the injury and who is at fault, seeking medical treatment as soon as possible and then filing a lawsuit against the employer.

The employee only needs to show that the employer’s negligence caused the injury. An experienced attorney who focuses on maritime law can represent injured employees and pursue compensation on their behalf.