The Jones Act allows injured seaman to make claims to seek compensation after accidents caused by negligence. Negligence under the Jones Act is a failure to take reasonable care, resulting in illness or injury. Seamen who can show their employer or the ship’s owner was negligent in their injuries can make a claim for compensation.
What Is Negligence?
According to the Jones Act, the simple definition of negligence is the failure to use reasonable care.
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- Reasonable care means taking the expected care for the safety and well-being of employees that any prudent person would.
- Negligence means doing something that a sensible person would not or failing to do something a reasonably prudent person would do to protect themselves, employees, and anyone else aboard the vessel.
Negligence and Causation
Negligence does not always cause accidents and injuries. An employer may get away with negligent behavior and be lucky enough to avoid accidents.
To prove negligence in the event of an accident or injury, you have to prove that the employer acted negligently and that this negligence caused the accident.
The negligence must have played a part in the accident, even if it is only a small part or if there were other factors involved.
Examples of Jones Act Negligence
The definition of negligence is broad and leaves room for a lot of interpretation. It includes several actions or inactions on the part of an employer tasked with the responsibility of keeping a crew safe.
These are some examples of incidents that could be considered negligent under the Jones Act:
- For example, negligence could include a failure to provide adequate training for the crew. If crew members have not been adequately trained to use equipment or have not been trained in safety procedures, this could easily lead to an accident that causes injuries.
- The employer is also responsible for maintaining a vessel in a state that is safe for the crew. If the deck is cluttered with equipment or the equipment has not been maintained properly, this can lead to accidents.
- Not having the right equipment to do a job is another potential problem. To the best of their ability, the employer must also ensure that the vessel avoids storms or other kinds of weather to keep the crew safe.
- Confrontations between crew members could also fall under the category of negligence by the employer. If another employee assaults you, your employer could be negligent for allowing conditions on the vessel that led to conflict and violence.
What Is the Burden of Proof Under the Jones Act?
The good news for a seaman injured on the job is that they have a low burden of proof regarding negligence.
In maritime injuries and accidents under the Jones Act, the seaman only needs to prove that negligence on the part of the employer played any role in causing the accident, even as little as one percent.
In many other types of negligence cases, the plaintiff is expected to prove that the defendant was the primary cause of an accident.
While the burden of proof is low for a plaintiff in a Jones Act claim, it is still essential to be prepared to make your case if you find yourself in this situation. A big part of this is having an experienced Jones Act attorney on your side, fighting for your rights to compensation.