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Legal Blog

Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Jones Act Claim?

If you're injured on a large cargo boat, our Houston Jones Act attorneys can help.

Jones Act claims have a statute of limitations of three years, which means that you only have that amount of time to sue your employer or ship owner for negligence if you were injured. If you are concerned that your maritime injury claim might be barred by the statute of limitations, you should consult with the Houston Jones Act attorneys of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. immediately.

For assistance with Jones Act Claims, call us today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Why Does the Jones Act Have a Statute of Limitations?

The purpose of the statute of limitations is to discourage frivolous suits. In general, the longer a person waits to sue, the harder it is for the court to determine what actually happened, and the more likely it is that the lawsuit is baseless. If you waited five years to sue the ship owner about a slip and fall, the case would likely get bogged down by the difficulty of proving what injuries actually resulted from the fall, as opposed to other mishaps that may have occurred during the intervening years.

The statute of limitations also protects ship owners against willfully frivolous suits. Suppose you slip and fall on your ship, but decide not to sue because you only got a scrape or a bruise. But four years later, you slip while shoveling snow out of your driveway, and from that point on, you experience debilitating back pain. If there was no statute of limitations, you might be tempted to sue the ship owner for the cost of treating your back by claiming that the pain originated from the fall on the ship.

Maintenance and Cure Benefits Have a Time Limit

The Jones Act gives seamen the power to sue ship owners for negligence. Additionally, the Jones Act creates a workers’ compensation system enabling you to obtain maintenance and cure benefits from your employer, no matter who was at fault for your maritime injury. Maintenance refers to the payment of your day-to-day living expenses, while cure covers your medical treatment.

The maintenance and cure benefits you receive after a ship accident are not permanent. Once a medical doctor determines that you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), your employer can stop paying out these benefits. You have reached MMI when further medical treatment will not result in any improvement of your condition, even if you are still incapacitated.

A Negligence Claim Against Your Employer Can Complement Your Maintenance and Cure

Because maintenance and cure benefits have a time limit, it is essential that you also make a negligence claim against your employer if you are injured at sea. You will likely continue to have medical expenses when your maintenance and cure runs out, and your negligence claim can provide you with the compensation you need for your medical expenses, as well as payments for lost wages, physical pain and mental anguish, and lost future earning capacity.

Don’t wait for your maintenance and cure benefits to run out before making a negligence claim – you might miss the Jones Act statute of limitations.

Our Houston Jones Act Lawyers Can Help

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we are determined to help our injured clients get back on their feet by advocating on their behalf during every step of the compensation process. Whether you are a sailor, a rig worker, or another maritime employee, we can improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve after a maritime accident.

If you or a family member has been injured at sea, contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free consultation.