What is the difference between Maritime Law and the Jones Act?
If you’ve been injured while working on a maritime vessel, offshore oil or gas rig, ship, tug boat, or any other number of vessels, you could be covered under the Jones Act, which has protected maritime workers, seamen, sailors and others who work on U.S. territorial waters for nearly a century. Or you could be covered by maritime law, also known as admiralty law.
Your best bet, if you are eligible, is the Jones Act. Independently of maritime law, admiralty law, workers compensation or Longshore Act payments, the Jones Act can help you gain the most substantial payments for your injury losses. But you need a knowledgeable Jones Act lawyer, maritime attorney or offshore injury lawyer to advance your case.
A qualified attorney can provide such legal help by holding accountable the captain, crew or owner of the vessel, rig or offshore platform on which you were injured. Your offshore injury may have been due to unseaworthiness caused by faulty equipment, an unsafe working environment or improper safety procedures on board. But thanks to the Jones Act, you have a legal right to seek payments for your injury losses via a lawsuit.
Who qualifies or does not qualify as a Jones Act seaman?
As a Jones Act seaman, that depends on the nature of the injured person’s work and where such work was performed. Rest assured that our maritime accident attorneys can determine if a seaman qualifies for protection under the Jones Act.
For example, if you were injured while working on an offshore platform or rig which was fixed to the ocean shore, you are not covered by the Jones Act. But if you were injured while working on a mobile rig or platform, then you are covered.
BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform which notoriously exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and killed 11 people was mobile — or, rather, a semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit, or MODU. The Jones Act covered that.
Workers injured or killed during transportation to or from an offshore oil rig or platform also are covered by the Jones Act. Many workers have been killed or injured in crashes of helicopters ferrying them to or from work in the Gulf of Mexico.
Even if you worked on a mobile oil or gas rig platform — which also includes lay barges, drill ships and spar platforms — you still must prove that the rig or platform had a substantial connection to a vessel or fleet, and that you contributed to its function or mission. That is due to the 1995 Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis U.S. Supreme Court decision.
As you can see, winning a Jones Act case requires experience and skill, to which a qualified lawyer can help.
What Ships, Vessels Are Protected by the Jones Act?
In terms of what ships and vessels are protected by the Jones Act, you should know that this law covers a wide variety. They include tug boats, supply boats, water taxis, shrimp boats, ferries, trawlers, riverboats, barges, tankers, drillships, jack-up rigs, container ships, cruise ships, fishing boats and charter boats.
Even if such a vessel is docked, if a worker on board is injured, the Jones Act can cover it.
Keep in mind that a three-year “statute of limitations” exists for Jones Act cases. This means that an injured seaman must file an offshore injuries claim within three years of the date of the injury.
As for the deaths of loved ones, survivors should know that the Jones Act covers maritime workers’ wrongful deaths on U.S. territorial waters. Fatalities beyond the territorial limit of three nautical miles for Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and other states are covered by the Death on the High Seas Act, or DOHSA.
When Do I Need a Maritime Lawyer?
Consider this: Your employer and its insurance company will try to minimize your claim in order to pay you as little as possible. Your maritime attorney or offshore injury lawyer will fight for the full payments to which you are due, given your injury losses, including money for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
With that in mind, your maritime lawyer from our law firm will advise you to reject a quick settlement offer from an employer. Such an offer is likely to be far less than what you are legally entitled to receive for your injury.
Your Jones Act attorney also will alert you that you are far less likely to receive substantial payments when you rely on workers comp or the Longshore Act. The Jones Act provides the best protections, provided you qualify.
Whether workers’ injuries are due to cruise ship accidents, oil rig accidents, offshore drilling accidents, offshore crane accidents, longshoreman accidents or other ship accidents, our maritime attorneys and offshore injury lawyers stand ready to help you win your case.
What Is Admiralty Law And What Is It About?
If you do not qualify for Jones Act protections, you may have questions about admiralty law, also known simply as maritime law.
One feature of admiralty law is payments for “maintenance and cure.” These payments can be gained soon after an injury and involve a daily allowance in lieu of wages (maintenance) as well as funds to offset ongoing medical expenses (cure).
For more substantial payments, you might need to sue your employer. However, in U.S. federal courts you have no right to a trial by jury in an admiralty law case. By contrast, a Jones Act case provides the right to a jury trial for seamen who sue their employer for injuries caused by a vessel’s unseaworthiness or by negligence of the owner, crew or captain.
Any Jones Act case is tried in a U.S. District Court.
What Kinds of Accidents or Injuries Are Covered By Jones Act?
As for what kinds of accidents’ injuries receive coverage via the Jones Act, understand this: Seamen, sailors or maritime workers have a legal right to seek financial compensation for injuries they’ve suffered for two reasons: unseaworthiness of the vessel, or negligence by the vessel’s captain, crew or owners.
Perhaps equipment was defective. Perhaps safety procedures were inadequate. Perhaps another worker who wasn’t sufficiently trained caused the accident injury. In any case, the Jones Act provides protections.
In terms of the kinds of injuries the Jones Act covers, they include a wide range, from broken bones and burns to paralysis and amputation.
Get a Free Case Review for Your Offshore Accident Injury
If you believe you are due payments for your offshore accident injury, get a free case review from veteran personal injury lawyer Jim Adler, also known as “The Texas Hammer.”
He and his maritime injury attorneys or Jones Act lawyers can navigate the difficult waters of a maritime law or Jones Act claim. They can fight for full and fair financial compensation for your offshore accident injury.
Contact us today to get started on claiming the payments to which you are legally entitled.