What Is Considered Employer Negligence Under the Jones Act?

Any person who is employed in an offshore environment has a dangerous job. In fact, offshore work is considered one of the most dangerous occupations and the country. Accidents and fatalities occur regularly in these types of jobs, and recovering compensation can be challenging. Typically, the only way for injured offshore workers to recover compensation is through the Jones Act. Here, we want to discuss what it means for an employer to be negligent for the purposes of recovering compensation through the Jones Act.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, as it pertains to workplace injuries, is a federal law that gives seamen (those who work offshore) the right to sue their employer for personal injuries if they sustain an injury during the course of their employment. Unlike individuals who work at land-based jobs, seamen are typically not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under state or federal laws. Because injured seamen are not able to file workers’ compensation claims, the only way they are able to recover compensation for their injuries is through the Jones Act. However, recovering compensation using this law requires proving that an employer was negligent.

What is Negligence Under the Jones Act?

Under the Jones Act, employers are required to:

  1. Provide seaman with a reasonably safe place to work, and
  2. Use ordinary care to maintain and keep the vessel where the seamen work in a reasonably safe condition.

A maritime employer will be held liable if their negligence is the cause of a seaman’s injuries. Additionally, the employer could be held liable due to the negligence of a captain or coworker of a seaman who sustains an injury.

The Jones Act places a significant burden on an employer to prove that they were not negligent after an injury occurs. The employer could be held liable under the Jones Act for various types of unsafe conditions on a vessel. Some unsafe conditions that could arise and lead to a valid Jones Act claim if an injury occurs include the following:

  • Oil or grease on the deck
  • Defective equipment that breaks
  • Improperly maintained equipment
  • An employer’s failure to provide crew members with adequate equipment to conduct their work
  • Improper training of seamen or supervisors
  • Unsafe work methods
  • Assault by a coworker offshore
  • Negligence of a coworker or supervisor

Working With an Attorney

It is crucial for any seaman who has sustained an injury offshore to work with an attorney to recover compensation for their losses. Even though there is a lower burden of proof to prove the negligence of an employer under the Jones Act, this does not mean that a person will automatically win their case. By working with an attorney, an injured offshore worker can help ensure that they recover the compensation they are entitled to. This can include coverage of all medical bills related to the injury, lost earnings, and lost earning capacity, as well as compensation for their pain and suffering losses.

Under the Jones Act, all injury claims must be filed within three years from the date the injury occurs. However, we strongly recommend that you begin any Jones Act claim as soon as possible to ensure that you recover compensation for your losses.

Call our Portland personal injury lawyers today.