As someone working on a seagoing vessel you assume a dangerous job and the risk of having a really serious injury while you’re away at sea. Most of these injuries could take away your livelihood or permanently diminish your life’s quality. Fortunately, if you know your rights in this regard you have some recourse if necessary.
Handling Offshore Injuries
When you’re injured in an offshore accident, you’ll want to hire a good lawyer who specializes in admiralty law, which is also known as maritime law. This is a distinct body of law governing maritime activities. These are activities that use the sea to produce an end result. Some examples include transportation, war, and territorial boundaries.
This is a very complex area of the law that’s governed by various federal statutes. These are very different from other types of injury cases because of the distinct risks employees encounter in this specific environment. Thanks to maritime law employees are protected from negligence when personal injuries or other types of accidents occur. Other types of cases covered by this law include those involving drilling rigs, barges, and other vessels including oil platforms. Transport helicopters originating in international and foreign waters and traveling on U.S. waterways are also covered by this law.
Introducing the Jones Act
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, give you certain legal rights. These protect your health and livelihood. Under this law you’re entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer if you’re injured by your fellow crew members’ or the ship owner’s negligence. If you’re killed because of this, the Jones Act allows your surviving spouse or dependents to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
When you or your family seek compensation because you’re injured while working on a barge, container ship, tugboat, crew boat, dredge, cargo ship, fishing vessel, or any other type of moveable vessel and the court resolves the case in your favor your employer must give you compensation for your health, family, and livelihood. This compensation must pay for your lost wages, medical expenses, and even for your non-economic damages.
History Behind the Jones Act
The Jones Act does a lot for anyone who’s suffered an offshore injury. However, it wasn’t always there to protect them. Before 1920 the law didn’t exist and many people suffered from abhorable working and living conditions on board ships. This led to many injuries and other issues that weren’t corrected until Senator Wesley L. Jones of Washington proposed this act. Under this law boating, companies must now maintain good, safe working conditions for their employees. This went a long way towards bolstering the growth of both foreign and domestic marine commerce.
Offshore Injury Types Covered by the Jones Act
There are several different offshore injury types covered by the Jones Act. Some of the most common types include:
Rig injuries occur because of the job’s harsh and often difficult conditions and include everything from burns to broken bones, paralysis, and even death
Deck accidents occur when you’re struck by a falling or swinging object and often result in the loss of a finger or other body part
Equipment failures are inevitable and can result in burns, electric shock, or the loss of body parts
Fires, explosions, and collisions can lead to burn injuries and fatalities
Jack-up rig accidents including electrical fires and gas leaks which cause burns and other serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries
Tugboat and barge injuries occur because of tripping and falling and are often severe
Fortunately, the Jones Act covers each of these different types of an offshore injury.
Although you probably understand that your job as a worker on a seagoing vessel is risky and dangerous, it should make you feel somewhat better knowing that this law is in place to protect you. Hopefully nothing ever happens and you never need to use it, but if you do, at least you’re protected.