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Legal Blog

Challenges of a Jones Act Claim

For some, the process of getting compensation for an injury received at sea goes smoothly. Others struggle with the same process. Your Jones Act claim may be vulnerable to challenges that could prevent you from receiving some or all of your benefits. For this reason, you should consult with an experienced maritime accident lawyer if you want to get the best outcome possible claim.

There are several types of compensation available to you under the Jones Act. In the aftermath of an accident, your employer will ask you to fill out an accident report. The answers you give, especially regarding what caused your injury, can greatly affect the benefits you receive. To better fill out this report, you should contact the Houston Jones Act lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. immediately.

If you or a loved one are seeking compensation for an injury through a Jones Act claim, call us today at (281) 283-8500.

When Can My Employer Refuse to Pay Maintenance and Cure?

Maintenance and cure are two types of compensation after you are injured while working as a seaman. Maintenance refers to day-to-day living expenses, while cure refers to your medical treatment.

In the following scenarios, your employer may refuse or limit your maintenance and cure benefits:

  • You are not a sailor- Just because you were onboard a ship does not mean you qualify for maintenance and cure. These benefits are only available to people who meet the Jones Act’s definition of a seaman, which is someone who spends at least 30% of their time in service of a vessel that operates on navigable waters. That being said, if you get injured on land while in service of your ship, you may still get compensation.
  • Your ship is not covered by the Jones Act- Foreign-owned vessels are not covered by the Jones Act. The fact that a ship is traveling to or within the waters of the United States is not sufficient for the Jones Act to apply.
  • You’ve reached maximum recovery- If medical examinations show that you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI), your employer may stop paying your benefits. You may request a second opinion about whether your condition might be improved through further treatment.

If you believe you are being denied maintenance and cure benefits for any of the reasons listed above, a Houston maritime lawyer be able to help. Strong advocacy from an experienced attorney may result in the reinstatements of your benefits.

How Can My Employer Challenge my Negligence Claim?

If you believe your employer’s failure to exercise its duty of care resulted in your injury, the Jones Act empowers you to file a claim for negligence against your employer. A failure to exercise the duty of care could consist in:

  • Irresponsible decisions by your superiors
  • Allowing the seaworthiness of the vessel to deteriorate
  • Not following industry safety standards

In your negligence claim, you may request more compensation in addition to that which you might receive from maintenance and cure. Some of the damages you can seek compensation for under maintenance and cure are loss of earning capacity, mental anguish, and physical pain.

These Jones Act negligence claims are often settled out of court. In some situations, the employer may challenge your claim, in which case litigation may be necessary. Some common challenges to Jones Act negligence claims include:

  • Contributory negligence- If your employer can prove that your carelessness was a contributing factor to your injury, you may be barred from recovering a significant portion of your damages. But remember that a finding that you were negligent does not bar you from receiving maintenance and cure.
  • Inapplicability of the Jones Act- If you are not a seaman as defined under the Jones Act, you are not be able to file a negligence claim under the Jones Act.
  • Statute of limitations- You must file your claim for negligence within three years of the occurrence or discovery of your injury.

Legal Help with Your Jones Act Claim

Your employer may place significant roadblocks between you and your recovery under the Jones Act. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston maritime lawyers have built our reputation on our ability to help our clients overcome these hurdles and get the compensation they deserve. If you have been injured while in service of a vessel, contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free consultation about your case.