Working on the water has always been a dangerous profession. There is always the danger of falling overboard when there is an accident on a ship or large boat, for instance. The fact that boats are floating also makes them less stable, so accidents are even more likely.
This is one of the reasons the Jones Act was created in 1920. The act itself governs activities of ships that do business in the United States, from one point on the coast to another point. The rights and protections of workers was also added. Just as railroad workers may sue a railroad for damages caused by personal injury, under the Jones Act, many people working on boats may have some recourse if they were injured due to negligence on the part of the owner of the ship or business.
If you have such a case, a maritime lawyer would be a great place to get started to recover your losses. According to the Supreme Court, a sailor falls under the Jones Act if he or she spends more than 30 percent of their working time on board a seagoing vessel. This can also include workers on drilling rigs at sea.
It can get complicated, so a maritime lawyer should be consulted. American workers on foreign vessels, doing business with other nations and visiting foreign ports, would not be covered under this act.
Cases that have come up under the act include situations like a cruise ship worker who was injured on the job. The person was required to lift something too heavy and suffered an injured back. The ship’s doctors played down the injury and it got worse. The worker was able to sue under the Jones Act and get the coverage needed. In that case the worker also received compensation for pain and suffering as well as recovery of medical expenses when a maritime lawyer helped prove the company operating the ship had been negligent.
In another case a worker was injured while working on a coastal dredging rig when he was not given proper protections for a high-risk job.
Workers have also been injured on oil drilling rigs, and other commercial operations. Companies need to be extra cautious in these dangerous environments, and they often are. The problem arises when sometimes these protections are relaxed in order to increase profits, or to at least cut costs.
In these cases workers need protection that is provided by the Jones Act. A good maritime lawyer can help negotiate the laws and get justice when an employer has been negligent, or who has put a worker in harms way. A maritime lawyer should be consulted when you have been injured while working on the water.