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Jones Act Injury Questions


Maritime Injury Offshore Worker

What is "The Jones Act?"

The Jones Act

was an important piece of United States legislation passed in 1920. It supported the American Merchant Marine, while also providing additional protections for sailors and ship's crew. Several clauses in the Jones Act set a precedent, since they went above and beyond similar protective clauses under international maritime law.

The Jones Act and the benefits it provides are extremely complex, and mariners who are eligible for claims under the Jones Act should always consult an attorney who is familiar with the Jones Act.

The Jones Act is officially titled the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, although it came to be known as the Jones Act after Senator Wesley Jones, who sponsored it. The act was passed in response to concerns about the health of the Merchant Marine, and to establish protections for sailors. Prior to passage of the Jones Act, sailors who were injured on the job had few options for recovering damages or getting assistance; recognizing the inherent danger of working at sea and the value of trained seamen, the Jones Act established a system of benefits for sailors.

 Two parts of the Jones Act are of particular historical importance.

 The first heavily promoted American built, owned, and staffed ships. This was accomplished by restricting shipping and passenger trade within the United States to American owned or American flagged ships, and stipulated that 75% of a ship's crew must consist of American citizens. In addition, the use of foreign parts and labor in ship construction and repair was also heavily restricted. This section of the Jones Act was intended to create a strong, well staffed Merchant Marine which could ably serve the United States during both peace and war.

The second important section of the Jones Act created benefits for sailors which are extremely far reaching. Any sailor who is injured at sea is entitled to maintenance and cure, meaning that the sailor's employer must pay him or her a daily stipend and provide medical care to treat the injury. In addition, sailors can also sue for damages if their injuries were caused by negligence on the part of the ship's owners or other crew members, or if they sailed on unseaworthy vessels. These damages include death benefits, in the event that a sailor is killed on the job.

 Anyone who spends at least 30% of his or her time in active service on a Merchant Marine vessel can qualify for Jones Act benefits. This includes all staff on board ship, from the Captain on down. The benefits provided by the Jones Act can be significantly higher than benefits for workers on land, if a skilled attorney is involved.
  Jones Act Injury Banner

Who Is Covered Under The Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that regulates United States shipping. Certain provisions of the Jones Act provide protection to workers who are injured during the course and scope of their employment. The Jones Act refers to workers as "seamen" and employers as "ship owners." However, courts have expanded the definition of seamen and ship owners to include many occupations and places of work that do not fall within the customary terms of "seaman" and "ship owner."

Examples of Maritime Injury Occupations Include

  • Offshore Oil Workers
  • Drill Ships Barges
  • Casino Boats
  • Passenger Ships
  • Freighters
  • Container Ships
  • Crew Boats
  • Fishing Boats
  • Supply Boats
  • Tugs Boats
  • Tow Boats Special
  • Purpose Vessels
  • Maritime Injury Settlements Can Be Substantial And Strict Time Limits Apply


    Offshore Injury Accidents

    What does a Maritime Injury Attorney charge?

    Jones Act injury attorneys operate on a contingency basis,meaning they work for a portion of your settlement. If the settlement is large,they stand to make some serious money.If there is no settlement then you owe them nothing.Typically your meeting with a maritime attorney, be it by person or phone, is free. In this initial consultation the attorney & will ask you questions as well as answer any questions that you have. You need to ask many questions. By the end of the consultation the attorney should be able to tell you if you have a maritime injury claim.
    The standard fee seems to be 33.33% of the injury settlement amount if settled without a lawsuit & 40% if your Jones Act claim goes into a lawsuit. Like all things in life, this fee is often negotiable. Remember many attorneys often pay other attorneys 15% of the settlement amount just to get your case!

    Find an attorney that is going to actually handle your Jones Act case from start to finish and then negotiate

    Remember there is a good deal of cost involved in getting you that settlement, not all of that percentage is profit and a good maritime injury attorney does earn his/her money. Finding a good attorney at 33.33% will often net you much more than retaining a poor attorney for a 15% fee. Jones Act settlements can be huge, often in the millions of dollars so you want the best possible attorney representing you. Expect to pay a higher percentage fee for smaller claims whereas you could try to negotiate a 20% fee for very large cases.

    Offshore Drilling Platform Accidents

    Why Should I Hire A Jones Act Lawyer?

    The company is already taking good care of me? Under the Jones Act you may be entitled to a great deal more than just having your medical bills provided for and a small weekly check while injured. Sometimes much more! Jones Act cases often run into the millions. The Jones Act is "fault based", which basically means that if your injury was caused by no fault of your own, you are entitled to more money.Employers do not want you to understand this.They don't want you to seek legal advice or file a claim. Employers basically want you off their books as cheaply as possible.

    Under The Jones Act You Are Generally Entitled To The Following;

    • Wages lost from the time of the injury to the time of trial
    • Wage loss in the future
    • Medical expenses in the past and in the future
    • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish in the past and in the future

    • Jones Act Injury Attorneys

      How is The Jones Act Different From Workers Compensation?

      The Workers Compensation reform passed in recent years has made multi-million dollar settlements a thing of the past. Under Workers Compensation today, an injured worker receives two-thirds of his wage while recovering until he reaches maximum medical improvement. Also his medical bills are paid. Offshore Workers,Seamen and other Maritime Workers are not covered under or provided the benefits of Workers Compensation.These workers are covered under a maritime law known as "The Jones Act".

      Under the Jones Act a worker receives "Maintenance and Cure". Think of 'Maintenance" as the weekly pay check a land based worker receives under Workers Compensation with one big difference. The 2/3 of normal pay that a land based worker receives is not available to a maritime worker. Not even close. In fact daily maintenance paid to a maritime worker averages just $10-$35 a day! Could you pay your bills and provide for your family on $10-$35 a day? That is all the employer is required to pay. Often times when an employee has a great Jones Act case an employer will pay that employee his regular wage or a percentage of it while he is recovering to deter him from exploring the available options and rights granted under the Jones Act.

      "Cure" refers to your medical bills. Your employer is required to pay medical expenses for the injury or illness that suffered while working.

      Ok, so you may be thinking,

      "Workers under the Jones Act are really getting screwed'!"

      Not necessarily. The Jones Act is a fault based system unlike Workers Compensation. If your injury is caused through no fault of your own, your settlement can be large. Much larger than anything under Workers Compensation. If someone working overhead drops something on you-If guards are left off machinery-If you slip and fall on oil that a machine is leaking, these are examples of Jones Act cases that could entitle you to a great deal of money. Jones Act cases often run into millions of dollars and every year thousands of injured workers do not pursue their opportunity the benefits that are entitled to them. The frame of mind seems to be...

    • "Hey, it was a stupid accident,Joe Blow forgot to cover that hatch I don't want to get him in trouble. The company paid my medical bills even provided a little more above the amount they were required to pay me while I was off work. Lets just sign off on this so I can go back to work."

    • If you have a great claim, of course they are going to take care of you.Employers are going to be your best friend! Employers don't want you to seek a lawyer. Employers don't want you to pursue a claim to what you are entitled to.

    • Workers Compensation reform passed in recent years has made multi-million dollar settlements a thing of the past. Under Workers Compensation today, an injured worker receives two-thirds of his wage while recovering until he reaches maximum medical improvement. Also his medical bills are paid.
    •  Offshore Workers, Seamen and other Maritime Workers are not covered under or provided the benefits of Workers Compensation. These workers are covered under a maritime law known as "The Jones Act".
    • Under the Jones Act a worker receives "Maintenance & Cure". Think of 'Maintenance" as the weekly pay check a land based worker receives under Workers Compensation. The 2/3 of normal pay (Under Workers Comp) and that a land based worker receives is not available to a maritime worker. Not even close. In fact daily maintenance paid to a maritime worker averages just $10-$35 a day! Could you pay your bills and provide for your family on $10-$35 a day? That is all the employer is required to pay.
    • Often times when an employee has a great Jones Act case an employer will pay that employee his regular wage or a percentage of it while he is recovering to deter him from exploring the available options and rights granted under the Jones Act."Cure" refers to your medical bills. Your employer is required to pay medical expenses for the injury or illness that you suffered while working.

      Questions To Ask A Jones Act Attorney or Maritime Accident Lawyer

      Before hiring a Jones Act injury attorney you should ask these questions;
      • Why do you believe you should handle my case and not some other lawyer?
      • Will you personally handle my case or will you give it to an associate or another law firm?
      • How long have you been in practice?
      • Are you board-certified in any legal speciality? If so, what speciality?
      • How many Jones Act or maritime injury cases have you personally handled in your legal career?
      • How many cases have you won?
      • How many have you lost?
      • Have you ever won a large verdict or settlement?
      • Can you give me a list of your past results or past cases?
      • Have you ever published any books or articles on the Jones Act or maritime law? If so,can you forward this information to me?
      • When I have a question about my case,will I be able to speak to you directly?
      • Have you ever been disciplined or reprimanded by a bar association?
      • Do you carry malpractice insurance?
      • Have you ever had a case against the same company that was negligent in my case?
      • Have you ever represented large companies or insurance companies?
      • What is the settlement value of my case?
      • How long does it typically take you to get your clients a settlement?
      • How long do you think my case will take to settle?
      • Do you offer interest free loans against settlements to help injured workers provide for their families?
      • Can I have a copy of my attorney-client contract to take home and study?
      • Will I get "blackballed"  by future employers if I hire a lawyer or file a claim?
      • What happens if I can't go back to work?