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Legal Blog

Who Is Covered Under the Jones Act?

There are more than 40,000 vessels built and crewed by American workers, according to the Shipbuilders Council of America. Texas alone ships more than 100 million tons of cargo domestically each year, and Houston is second in the nation for maritime jobs. When these workers are injured at sea or dockside, there are various federal maritime laws that may apply including the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

The Jones Act (also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) gives a seaman who is injured or killed in the course of their employment the right to bring a cause of action against their employer for negligence and seek compensation for personal injury damages. Employers and/or vessel owners have a duty to maintain a reasonably safe working environment under the Jones Act.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a maritime accident, contact our experienced Houston maritime lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at (281) 283-8500 to find out how we can help you.

What Injuries are Covered?

The Jones Act provides a statutory remedy for seamen who experience injuries in the course of employment. The term “course of employment” includes injuries that occur offshore, in transit to or from a vessel, or onshore so long as the activity was in service to the ship.

Who is Considered a “Seaman”?

The Jones Act only covers seamen, but the law does not provide a definition of the term. However, courts have developed the following criteria to meet seaman status:

  • A worker who contributes to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission; and
  • has a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee who performs less than 30 percent their work time in service of a vessel is generally not considered a seaman. Legally speaking, courts will typically consider a totality of circumstances when determining whether someone qualified for seaman status under the Jones Act.

What Can a Person Recover Under the Jones Act?

In order to recover compensation under the Jones Act, an injured employee must prove that their employer acted in a negligent manner and that such conduct was the proximate cause of the injury. With respect to a Jones Act claim, an injured seaman may be able to recover compensation for past and future:

  • Physical pain
  • Medical expenses
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Physical limitations
  • Disfigurement

In addition to personal injury damages for negligence, injured seaman may be able to recover maintenance and cure benefits. A worker who is injured in service of the vessel may be entitled to maintenance and cure even if the vessel owner or employer was not at-fault for the injury.

How Our Houston Maritime Accident Lawyers Can Give You the Support You Need

If you have been injured while working offshore, it is important to consult with an experienced maritime injury lawyer. The skilled team of Houston maritime injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have been handling Jones Act claims for more than four decades, so they know what it takes to fight for the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.

We have a proven track record of success in a broad variety of maritime accident cases and we will commit the full extent of our skills, knowledge, and resources to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to receive a free, no-risk consultation.