Hi everybody, I’m Bill Adler and thanks for joining us for another one of our frequently asked questions. Today we’re talking about a powerful tool for injured workers: The Jones Act. If you work on a boat or other vessel, and were injured, this law can help you get compensation. But it doesn’t apply to every worker, so in this segment, we’re going to talk about who is covered under The Jones Act.
The Jones Act was created as a way to compensate people who were injured while working on a vessel. It lets injured workers sue an employer who is at fault for the accident, or who supervises and directs co-workers who are at fault for the accident. In a Jones Act lawsuit, workers can recover money to cover their medical costs, the wages they lose while they can’t work, and their pain and suffering.
But not every worker can use the Jones Act. By law, it only covers seamen, which means people who spend at least a third of their work time on a vessel. A vessel is anything that floats and is capable of moving, which means it isn’t just boats and ships. Work must be done on the vessel, and the vessel must be capable of moving through waters that cross state or national borders. But it doesn’t have to actually be moving, or be traveling across borders, when the accident occurs. That includes many vessels used in the oil industry here in Texas, including jack up rigs, drill ships, tugboats, offshore oil and gas supply boats, push boats and barges.
Deciding who is a seaman can be complicated. However, many jobs that are only found on ships or in the oil industry can qualify a worker to use the Jones Act. Those include mate, engineer, able-bodied seaman, deckhand, porter, fisherman, steward, Jobs in the oil industry that can be covered include driller, floorhand, roughneck, roustabout, derrickman, toolpusher, rig mechanic, rig electrician, or crane operator.
The Jones Act also requires that you show that your employer or co-workers caused the accident. This doesn’t mean they had to directly cause it. It could also be a case of failing to act, like when the employer ignores safety rules. Your employer has to answer for your co-workers’ decisions because as the employer, he or she directs and controls their work. This makes the Jones Act different from workers’ compensation, which applies regardless of who was at fault. To win a Jones Act case, you need to have evidence proving that someone else’s decisions caused the injury.
In this way, the Jones Act is more like an ordinary personal injury lawsuit. That means that to have the best chance of winning, you should hire a lawyer with experience in this kind of law. It also means you can recover more money than you could through workers’ compensation. That includes full replacement wages, all your past and future medical bills, and compensation for your pain and suffering. If you can’t work in the future either, you may also recover enough money to support yourself in the long term.
Because Jones Act claims can be expensive, some employers and insurance companies do everything they can to discourage or defeat them. It’s important to report your injury right away, so they can’t claim the incident never happened or that you’re exaggerating your injuries. For the same reason, you should be suspicious when the insurance company asks you to do certain things. If they pressure you to sign something before you have time to understand it, or ask you to give a recorded or written statement, just don’t do it. An experienced Jones Act lawyer can give you advice about what to do. And that lawyer works for you, so you know we have your best interests in mind.
Jim Adler & Associates can help you. We have more than 40 years of experience helping injured victims receive fair compensation under The Jones Act. And we offer free case evaluations, so you can learn more about your rights and your situation at no cost to you. To set one of those up, fill out our online contact form at jimadler.com or call us at 1-800-567-7575.