If you have been injured while working on a ship, we can help you. Our maritime attorneys are experienced in the investigation and prosecution of crew member injury and wrongful death claims. We are known for our responsiveness, thorough and hands-on litigation style, investigative and negotiating skills, and our accessibility to our clients. We go wherever you need us to be.
Grossman Law relies on open communication and trust in bringing justice to clients.
You may be entitled to benefits under the Jones Act, which is a federal maritime statute encompassing a very substantial portion of U.S. maritime and admiralty law. The Jones Act defines the legal obligations and duties between a seaman and his or her employer and the law for the claims of crew members injured while working on the ship. Jones Act claims are very complicated, and not a field of law that many attorneys specialize in.
Maintenance And Cure
Under the Jones Act, if you are injured or become ill while serving on a ship, your employer or shipowner is obligated to pay maintenance and cure, regardless of whether your employer is at fault. Maintenance is a daily rate that is designed to replace the living benefits you have while on the vessel, such as food, lodging and utilities. The amount paid to each individual varies by contract.
Cure is your employer’s or vessel owner’s obligation to pay your medical expenses associated with the injury or illness. Cure is owed until your doctor can do no more to heal your condition, which is known as reaching maximum recovery.
You are entitled to maintenance and cure regardless of the cause of your injury. You do not have to prove that the illness or injury resulted from your employment, or that anyone was at fault.
A maritime employer’s failure to pay maintenance and cure is actionable, and, if the refusal is willful, it can result in a claim for attorney fees and punitive damages. A three-year statute of limitations applies to maritime claims under general maritime law, including those for maintenance and cure. Lawsuits are filed against an employer under the Jones Act in state or federal court, depending on the state. You may or may not be entitled to a jury trial, depending on the jurisdiction, therefore, selecting the proper place to file suit is critical. Our maritime lawyers can help you in selecting the correct jurisdiction to file your lawsuit.
The Jones Act applies to
officers, crew members, entertainers, on nearly every type of vessel or ship, including:
Longshoremen, harbor workers, shipbuilders, ship repair personnel, and fixed platform workers are not covered by the Jones Act, as they fall under other maritime laws and are entitled to different remedies. If you are a longshoreman, we can help. Our Florida Maritime attorneys help seamen injured on vessels out at sea or in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Panama City, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach and throughout the United States.
Suing for negligence under the jones act
Negligence exists when an employer is even slightly careless in causing an injury. Your employer may also be liable for violating its duty to prove a seaworthy vessel and crew. If the vessel is not fit for its intended purposes or is equipped with defective gear, including tools, large equipment and even toilets, or the crew is incompetent or of an inadequate size, it may constitute employer negligence. The employer may also be liable if you are assaulted by a fellow crew member.
Damages for injuries caused by employer negligence or unseaworthiness under the Jones Act include pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses and loss of the ability to lead a normal life.
Seaworthiness Under the Jones Act
The jones act claims process
1. Report The Injury
As soon as possible after your injury, you should report it to your senior officer or employer. Not only will this create an initial record of the injury caused, but it will also permit your employer to conduct an investigation if necessary. By reporting the injury early, you maximize your ability to collect eyewitness testimony and evidence from the scene.
Reporting the injury early is also crucial for getting your claim in before the statute of limitations expires. Injured seamen must bring their Jones Act claims within three years of the time of the accident. Since you likely won’t file a lawsuit immediately after your injury, starting the process as soon as possible is in your best interest.
2. Receive Medical Treatment
Although reporting the incident is important, taking care of your own health and well-being is even more so. After your initial meeting with your doctor, have them prepare a report of your injuries. This evidence may be crucial for your claim down the line.
3. File a Formal Report
Your formal report is your opportunity to provide a detailed account of the circumstances leading up to your injury. At the same time however, your formal report may serve as evidence that your employer was not at fault if it is not carefully drafted. We strongly recommend consulting a Jones Act lawyer before completing any formal report.
4. Settle The Case Or File A Lawsuit
If you haven’t done so already by this stage, now is the time to hire an attorney. A Jones Act case ends with either a lawsuit or a settlement. Deciding which route to take may be difficult, and an attorney will be invaluable.
On the one hand, negotiating a fair settlement is almost impossible without legal representation. Insurance companies and employers know that you may be interested in a quick resolution, and as a result, they will make you offers far below what your case is actually worth.
On the other hand, if you choose to file a Jones Act lawsuit, you will have to deal with the complexity of taking your case through the court system. Regardless of which route you choose, it’s best to seek help from an experienced attorney.
Contact a Jones Act Lawyer Today
Yes. Jones Act claims follow the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, monetary recovery by an injured victim is reduced proportionally to the victim’s own level of negligence. What this means is that as long as a Jones Act injury isn’t entirely the fault of the victim, they can recover damages.
Whether a settlement is better than a lawsuit is highly dependent on the facts of each case. While settling a case is much faster than filing a lawsuit, the compensation you get from a settlement may be lower.
When you meet with one of our Jones Act lawyers, we will go over the benefits of both options. That way, you can make an informed decision that works best for your particular situation.
Yes. In general, pre-existing injuries do not bar you from claiming damages under the Jones Act. The negligence and seaworthiness provisions of the Act always apply. As a result, negligence that aggravates an existing injury is still actionable.
The length of any individual case depends on a number of factors. For example, if your injuries are particularly severe, everyone involved will likely want to conduct as thorough an investigation as possible. Tracking down witnesses and evidence may take quite a while in this situation.
The other major factor will be whether you decide to settle or file suit. Settlements are a much quicker alternative to litigation. However, depending on how cooperative the other party is, a settlement may still take several months. If you decide to file in court, the case will take even longer—in most cases, it can take over a year to get to trial.