The process of filing a Jones Act claim, resolving the claim, going through arbitration, and sometimes going to trial to get compensation for your injury is complicated. There are many mistakes you could make while making a claim and only an expert on maritime law and the Jones Act can really know all of the details of the law and the process.
If you are injured and feel you have a claim to damages, you need the expertise of a Jones Act lawyer. This is someone who has filed claims for injured seamen, successfully won compensation for clients, and knows every detail of the Jones Act and how to get the most for you. Being injured and facing medical expenses is stressful enough without trying to get compensation without help. Know when and how to look for a qualified lawyer and you will have the best chance of making a successful claim.
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A Seaman’s Rights under the Jones Act
If you work as a seaman you need to understand your rights as laid out under the Jones Act or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This law is designed to guarantee a seaman’s right to compensation in the case of an accident caused by a ship owner’s or employer’s negligence.
Understanding your rights is important, but the Jones Act can be confusing. Someone who has experience studying the law and working for seamen to get them the compensation they deserve, can help guide you if you are injured on the job. An experienced lawyer can explain your rights to you in language you can understand and can help you get compensation.
Qualifications and Jones Act Claims
Your first question might be whether or not you even qualify for rights under the Jones Act. An experienced and knowledgeable Jones Act lawyer can help clarify that for you. The law is designed for seamen who spend a significant portion of working time aboard a vessel in navigation and contributing to the functioning of the vessel. This is a broad qualification, but your lawyer can help you determine definitively whether or not you qualify.
If you find that you do qualify for receiving compensation or for suing your employer for damages under the Jones Act, a good lawyer can help you through the process of filing a claim. There are certain steps you must take and common errors that are easy to make if you don’t have an experienced lawyer helping you along the way.
When to Look for a Lawyer
If you are a seaman and have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for a claim under the Jones Act. For a claim to be valid the injury must have been caused by someone’s negligence, it must have happened while the vessel was on the water, and you must meet the qualification of being a seaman spending at least 30 percent of your work time aboard a navigable vessel. Here are some examples of accidents or injuries that could qualify for a Jones Act claim:
- An accident happened because you were exhausted from working a longer shift than was allowed or from working a shift without the mandated breaks.
- You were injured because you or others were not given adequate safety training.
- The vessel was unseaworthy and it caused an accident.
- You were physically assaulted aboard the vessel.
- You were injured because a piece of equipment had not been properly maintained.
- Warning signs were inadequate or not present in hazardous areas of a vessel.
In any of these, or similar situations involving negligence, cause you to be injured on the job, it may be time to look for a good lawyer who can help you determine if your claim is valid and help you file a Jones Act claim.
What to Look for in a Jones Act Lawyer
When seeking a professional to help with your claim, you want to find a firm and an individual with experience in maritime law. Evaluate your potential choices and ask as many questions as you need to make you feel comfortable with your choice.
Look for a lawyer who has already filed and won many claims for injured seamen. Maritime law can be complicated and you need someone who has the experience and the knowledge to give you the best chance of winning damages. Jones Act claims may require litigation, which means you also want a lawyer with courtroom experience.
Being injured on the job is serious and can impact your life in many ways. You need to be sure that you understand your rights according to the Jones Act and that you have an experienced and knowledgeable team of professionals, including a Jones Act lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.