The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a remedy for injured maritime workers. According to this act, 46 U.S.C.A. 30104, A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer. An injured crewmember may have a claim against his or her employer (ship owner) for negligence if the vessel is unseaworthy. It is the duty of the ship owner to maintain a vessel that is seaworthy, including the vessel, gear and appliances. This duty is absolute and not based on the fault of the ship owner.
According to the Jones Act, A defective condition of the vessel which proximately causes the seaman's injury makes the ship unseaworthy as to him. This does not mean that the entire vessel is unfit or unseaworthy. The crewmembers remedy applies only against the owner of the vessel, gear or appliances. If you are a crewmember that has been injured while employed on a seagoing vessel, contact a maritime law lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
It is the duty of the ship owner to keep the ship, supplies and appliances in working order and seaworthy. If the vessel is deemed unseaworthy, the liability shifts to the ship owner and protects seamen from dangerous conditions that are beyond their control. The ship owner's duty to provide a seaworthy ship is absolute, continuing and independent of the duty to exercise reasonable care.
An injured seaman may recover for injuries sustained if he or she is injured due to the unseaworthiness of the vessel. The seaman must show that a defect in the vessel or the vessels equipment existed and that the defect was the proximate cause of his or her injury. An injured party may also have a contractual claim against a ship owner. In every hiring contract between a ship owner and seaman is the implied warranty of the ship owner that the vessel is seaworthy at the beginning of the voyage. If a crew member is injured due to the unseaworthiness of the vessel, this may be a breach of contract.
Time Limit to File
Actions brought under the Jones Act are governed by the Federal Employers' Liability Act. 45 U.S.C.A. 51. Therefore, the three-year time limitation for bringing the Jones Act lawsuit applies.
Generally, the cause of action begins to accrue (three-year time limit starts) when the injury is discovered. The statute of limitations begins to run when the injury and its cause are apparent or made known.
If you or a family member has been injured during the course of employment on a seagoing vessel, you may have a claim under the federal Jones Act. It is important to contact an attorney knowledgeable in the Jones Act to determine your possible personal injury claim and answer any questions you may have regarding the Jones Act.
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