Maritime Lawyer Houston

Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (The Jones Act) Failing to maintain “Seaworthiness” of the vessel!

The Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920) is a specific Federal law creating protection for workers (Maritime employees or “Seaman”) injured while out at sea. Seaman are not afforded relief under State or Federal workers’ compensation laws. Unlike the protection provided by the Jones Act, there are other laws that protect workers injured while on shore and not out in the water (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act). An injured maritime worker’s remedy falls under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (The Jones Act). The protection provided under the Jones Act extends to various types of “seaman” including:

  • Sailors (Captains, Officers, Mates, Stewards, Deckhands, Boatswains, Engineers)
  • Mechanics
  • Drillers
  • Divers
  • Cooks and
  • Fishermen

When a seaman suffers an injury, when the vessel is “in navigation” and as a result of the negligence of the vessel owner or their employee or,the injury resulted from the unseaworthiness of the vessel, the seaman can file a claim if he can establish the elements of common law negligence; Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation and Damages. In a more simplistic view, all employers a duty of care to not expose employee or workers to an unreasonable risk of harm. Vessel owners and employers fail or “breach” this duty if conditions exist where a worker is ordered to perform work that exposes that work to an unreasonable risk of injury. For example, an employer could be found to breach the duty owed to an employee by ordering them to perform work without the tools required to perform the job safely or, by failing to provide enough manpower required for the job.

Conditions on the vessels often, by the very nature of the work and the equipment involved in performing assigned job duties, are dangerous and require very specific safety precautions that must be following in order to reduce the risk of injury to workers. If safety is compromised and a worker is injured, the worker could feel alone without knowing exactly what steps to take in order to protect their rights. The vessel could be in a very desolate and remote area on the waters and communication could be scarce. As soon as it is practical, an injured worker is going to need to sit down with legal counsel and discuss whether there is a claim to be filed and, what is in store for the injured worker’s family.

If you’ve been injured while working on a vessel, remember that the individual or company that owns that vessel is already preparing the case you should too! If the employer was negligent, you may have a sustainable claim under the Jones Act. Call Houston Work Injury Attorney Hector L. Sandoval and get the representation that you deserve! Sandoval Law Firm, PLLC helps injured maritime workers. Call 346-347-7777 for a free and informative consultation!

Put up a fight and don’t give up on your rights!