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Am I entitled to damages under the Jones Act?

New Yorkers who work on a sea vessel are at risk for serious on-the-job injuries. The Jones Act is intended to provide certain maritime employees with compensation in the case of a workplace injury.

Can I recover compensation under the Jones Act?

Not all maritime workers qualify for damages under the Jones Act. To recover compensation under the Jones Act, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You qualify as a ‘seaman’, as defined by the Jones Act. Anyone who works on board a vessel, with certain exceptions (e.g. sailing school students), and whose work contributes to the objectives of the vessel may qualify as a ‘seaman’ under the Jones Act. However, the court will use many factors to determine whether someone meets the necessary criteria (e.g. whether the vessel was in navigation, whether the worker has a significant connection to the vessel, whether the worker could be classified as an independent contractor).
  • You suffered injury or illness while in the course and scope of your employment. The injuries or illness you suffered must have occurred while you were in the job and doing duties that were within the scope of your employment.
  • The injury or illness you suffered was caused by the negligence of your employer or your co-workers. Your employer has a duty to you as an employee to provide a seaworthy vessel for you to work on. This means that they must provide you with a reasonably safe work environment and take reasonable steps to maintain this safe environment. Failure to do so may constitute as negligence.

What damages can I recover?

If you suffered injuries due to an unseaworthy vessel, you may be entitled to the same economic and non-economic damages you would recover in a personal injury case. These damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

If you are interested in filing a claim against your employer under the Jones Act, an attorney may be able to help.