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Chanfrau & Chanfrau

The Jones Act and Maritime Law: Legal Rights for Workers at Sea

By William Chanfrau, Jr. on January 22, 2018

A large shipping vessel at seaEven in a digital age, boats and seagoing vessels remain an important part of shipping and commerce around the world. Given these realities, there are a number of laws protecting seamen on a vessel in case of on-the-job injuries. When accidents occur, it’s important to speak with attorneys well-versed in Florida and federal maritime law.

The attorneys at the Daytona Beach, FL law firm of Chanfrau & Chanfrau would like to consider the Jones Act and the role it plays in maritime accidents. As you’ll learn, the Jones Act is a crucial protection for injured workers and their families.

What Is the Jones Act?

Also referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act refers to federal law that protects American workers who are injured while at sea. Workers who are injured on the job or become sick while on the job are entitled to collect compensation from their employers. Furthermore, injured employees can potentially bring lawsuits against their employers if the injury or incident occurred as a result of the employer’s negligence.

Who Is Protected Under the Jones Act?

A seaman is protected under the Jones Act if he or she is employed by a ship or shipping company whose vessel or fleet operates on navigable waters. At least 30 percent of this seaman’s time must be spent working with on the vessel, directly related to the ship’s normal function.

Sometimes the language of the Jones Act comes up for debate in legal proceedings, which is why having a skilled attorney on your side can be essential for legal success.

The Issue of Negligence

One of the most important aspects o the Jones Act is the ability for an employee to bring a negligence lawsuit against their employer. Negligence in this case refers to instances in which an employer subjects employees to unnecessary risks while on a vessel. The nature of the negligence can help determine the amount of legal damages that can be sought in the lawsuit.

Unseaworthy Vessels

In some cases, employer negligence per se is not the cause of an accident but rather the condition of a seagoing vessel itself. When a vessel is unseaworthy, the chances of accidents occurring is much higher. The owner or entity that controls the vessel can be held legally accountable for injuries to seamen who are onboard.

The Right to Maintenance and Cure

Maintenance and cure operates similarly to workers’ compensation for onshore employees. These benefits help cover the seaman’s living expenses while they recover from an injury.

Be aware that if someone files a claim for maintenance and cure, the amount recovered will not be as much as the amount recovered should that seaman seek legal action against their employer. This is why it’s important to consider what your legal options may be given the nature of your injury.

How a Maritime Law Attorney Can Help

Federal and state maritime law can be quite complex. It’s not advisable for people to go about these kinds of cases on their own without any knowledge of federal and Florida laws.

By working with a skilled maritime law attorney, you can get sound legal counsel about how to proceed with your case. This peace of mind can be crucial as you recover and make plans for your life ahead.

Contact the Attorneys of Chanfrau & Chanfrau

For more information about your legal rights and options following a severe injury at sea or on other bodies of water, be sure to contact an experienced maritime law attorney. The legal team at Chanfrau & Chanfrau is here to help you in your time of legal need.

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