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Legal Blog

Your Legal Rights Under the Jones Act

The Port of Houston’s economic activity helps make Texas one of the top three states in the country for maritime jobs. The thriving domestic maritime industry adds $8 billion annually to the Texas economy and provides more than 39,000 maritime jobs in the state. While the maritime industry is certainly a boon for the economy, accidents do happen while at sea.

For the thousands of mariners who work on ships, boats, and other vessels throughout the Gulf Coast region, it is important to understand your rights under the Jones Act should you sustain an injury while at sea. If you are mariner who has been injured at sea, it is critical that you speak with an experienced Houston maritime accident lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your options. Call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at (281) 283-8500.

What is the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly referred to as the Jones Act) is a federal statute that provides a legal remedy to any seamen injured or killed in the course of their employment (46 U.S.C. §30104). The Jones Act provides more benefits than would be available under a traditional workers’ compensation claim. The law also regulates various aspects of the domestic maritime industry.

Who is Covered Under the Jones Act?

In order for the Jones Act to apply, the person must (1) qualify as a seaman and (2) be injured or killed in the course of employment. The law itself does not define the term “seaman” a definition has been developed throughout a number of court decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court has developed the following two-prong seaman status test: (1) contributes to the vessel’s function or completion of its mission and (2) has a connection to a vessel in navigation or perform a substantial part of their work aboard a vessel.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has also created a general rule that an employee who spends less than 30 percent of their work time in service of a vessel is not considered a seaman. Furthermore, seamen do not lose the protections of the Jones Act when their service to a vessel takes them ashore.

Who Can File a Jones Act Claim?

The Jones Act gives injured seaman or their survivors the right to bring a claim against their employer for negligence or failure to ensure a reasonably safe working environment. The damages recoverable under the Jones Act include past and future:

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

Punitive damages are not available under this. You may also be able to file a claim for maintenance and cure, which involves daily living expenses and medical costs for treatment of the work-related injury.

Skilled Representation for Your Jones Act Claim

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our team of talented Houston maritime accident lawyers can explain what rights may be available to you under the Jones Act Claim based on the unique circumstances of your case and help you understand your legal options.

Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free, initial consultation and find out how we can help.