The provisions of the 1920 Jones Act that provide compensation for injuries to seamen were written for two important reasons. One is that work on the high seas tends to be perilous and consequently seamen are prone to a higher-than-average risk of injury and death. The second is that worker compensation coverage for land-based employment does not apply to seamen.

As such, it is an area of law that Jones Act attorneys typically handle. The nature of accidents on ocean-going and river-navigating vessels requires a familiarity with such environments and the laws that apply to them.

Types of accident

While the injury to a seaman might actually happen on land under Jones Act provisions, most often such accidents happen while in service on the vessel itself. Definitions provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration break accidents into at least six categories:

  • Struck – Involves a falling object or an individual struck against a fixed object
  • Falls, trips and slips – On same or different levels of the ship
  • Catches – When the seaman is caught on, in, or between objects
  • Punctures and lacerations – Stings, bites, cuts, and penetrations into the skin of the worker
  • Contact – With an injurious object or toxic substance
  • Exertion – Straining or stress from single or repeated motion
  • Exposure – Inhalation, ingestion, or absorption of a toxic or otherwise injurious substance

Proving causation between an injury and serious impairment is the work of a maritime attorney. Seamen tend to be a hardy lot, brushing off injuries in the moment of the accident only to discover how debilitating the injury is days or weeks later. Maritime lawyers always advise seamen to seek immediate medical attention to minimize the opportunity for the employer to argue otherwise. In the case of a toxic chemical exposure, that risk runs even higher.

Note that some employers encourage a seaman to file for a Workers Compensation claim instead of a claim under the Jones Act. As a qualified Jones Act attorney can readily attest, this can result in a costly mistake. If the injured party files under the state workers comp insurance policy, it can preclude filing a claim under the Jones Act. This is a problem because Jones Act cash settlements can include more than lost wages and medical expenses—a settlement could also cover pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of household services.

Contact us

Powell & Majestro provides legal representation to clients in personal injury litigation, including cases where maritime law applies and where a Jones Act lawyer is required. The firm is experienced in working on behalf of injured seamen, tourists, and the operators of recreational seagoing craft in both inland waterways and open seas. Contact us today.

Powell & Majestro PLLC

405 Capitol St # 1200

Charleston WV 25301-1765

(304) 346-2889

The provisions of the 1920 Jones Act that provide compensation for injuries to seamen were written for two important reasons. One is that work on the high seas tends to be perilous and consequently seamen are prone to a higher-than-average risk of injury and death. The second is that worker compensation coverage for land-based employment does not apply to seamen.

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