Maritime Injury Lawyers in Austin

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The Jones Act, a federal law enacted in 1920, provides important protections for seamen who are injured on the job. The law allows certain qualified maritime workers to hold their employer liable for damages when their injuries result from negligence. Injured seamen (or their loved ones in fatal cases) must take specific steps and present sufficient evidence of their employer’s negligence in order to receive compensation for their losses.

It is highly advisable to have an attorney assist you with the process. For help from a firm in Austin that regularly handles Jones Act cases, call Lovins Law and request a free consultation: 512-535-1649.

What exactly is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, found in 46 U.S.C. § 30104, allows seamen who have been injured on the job to file suit against negligent employers, much like a personal injury claim. This is a somewhat of a special privilege considering that land-based workers are typically barred from suing their employers.

46 U.S.C. § 688 states: “Any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right of trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States…”

What is a seaman?

The Jones Act itself does not actually define the term “seaman.” 46 U.S. Code § 10101 defines seaman as “an individual engaged or employed in any capacity on board a vessel,” but it is a little more complicated than that.

A seaman can be any worker on a vessel, from captain to deckhand, but in order to be a seaman for the purposes of a Jones Act claim:

  • You must spend a significant part of your working hours aboard a vessel;
  • The vessel must be “in navigation” on “navigable waters”; and
  • Your work has to “contribute to the work of the vessel” (i.e., it must add to the accomplishment of the vessel’s mission.

Meeting the legal definition of seaman can be tricky. For instance, if you primarily work in a land-based office managing the fishing company’s affairs and were injured on your once-a-year trip at sea, you may not meet the definition of a seaman.

Whether or not an individual injured on a stationary oil drilling platform meets the definition of seaman can also be tricky. Even if the definition of seaman is not met, and as such the Jones Act does not apply, offshore oil workers can still seek recovery under general maritime laws, and other state and federal laws. As you can see, offshore injuries raise difficult legal issues that require knowledge and experience.

Pete Trosclair has just the experience you need — and a passion for protecting oil workers. His father actually worked on an offshore rig most of his life until he suffered a debilitating injury. Pete knows exactly how the system works and exactly how to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

Do I qualify for benefits under the Jones Act?

In order to qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, you have to:

  • Meet the definition of a seaman, and
  • Be able to prove that your employer’s or the vessel owner’s negligence caused or contributed to your injuries

Fortunately for seamen, the burden of proof for a Jones Act claim is much lower than other types of personal injury cases. In order to prevail in Jones Act case, you only have to prove that your employer’s negligence — however slight it may be — contributed to your injury. (In other types of injury cases, you would normally have to prove that the other party was at least 50 percent or more at fault.)

Maritime business owners and ship owners have a legal duty to maintain reasonably safe working conditions for their employees. Failure on their part can be negligence. Below are a few common examples of employer negligence in Jones Act claims:

  • Failing to fix broken equipment
  • Failing to clean spills on deck
  • Hiring negligent or incompetent employees
  • Failing to properly train crew members
  • Improper maintenance or inspection of the vessel

What types of compensation can I obtain with a Jones Act claim?

The Jones Act is quite employee-friendly. It provides injured seamen with opportunity for additional compensation above and beyond maintenance and cure (i.e., living expenses and medical costs).

You can recover a wide variety of damages in a Jones Act claim, including but not limited to:

  • Full wage replacement
  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost quality of life
  • Death benefits to family if the seaman dies, including loss of monetary contribution to the family he would have provided during his lifetime, loss of services and support, and loss of consortium

How do I prove my employer was negligent and liable?

You will need to have evidence that your employer’s negligence contributed to your injury in order to file a lawsuit and hold the company liable for your damages. When you enlist the help of the Jones Act Lawyers at Lovins Law we will get to work immediately collecting the evidence necessary to support you case.

This may include things such as photos of the hazard, the vessel’s maintenance records, crewmember’s employee files, statements from other crew members, company records, etc. You will also need to be able to justify your damages, so make sure to keep records of all of your expenses and bills related to your injuries, and share them with your attorney.

Is Lovins Law accepting Jones Act cases in Austin?

Our Jones Act lawyers in Austin are on the ready to assist injured seamen with any type of maritime case. We have the experience and determination to fight for the full amount of compensation you are entitled to when you have been hurt while working aboard a vessel.

Call Lovins Law today at 512-535-1649 to schedule a free consultation to get started.

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