Jones Act Claims

An injury at sea can have a devastating impact on a seaman and his or her family. Under the Jones Act, a seaman can file a claim for relief under several different legal theories based on federal law. The Jones Act can also supplement the Death on the High Seas Act, which may allow a deceased seaman's surviving family members to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased seaman with the assistance of a Lafayette Jones Act lawyer.

The two most commonly filed claims against an employer are claims for negligence and unseaworthiness. To bring one of these two claims, a seaman must file a civil action against his or her employer or vessel owner in court. A lawyer can help you determine which claim is most appropriate for your particular case.

As previously mentioned, one type of claim available under the Jones Act is a claim for negligence against an employer or vessel owner. Under a Jones Act negligence claim, a seaman must prove his or her case with affirmative evidence. In order to prove a negligence claim, a seaman must show that the employer or vessel owner owed a duty to the seaman, that the employer or vessel owner breached this duty, and that this breach caused damage to the seaman. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, the causation element of a negligence claim can be extremely difficult to prove. This makes it important to consult a Jones Act attorney at our Lafayette firm.

Upon proof of a vessel owner's negligence, a seaman can recover additional compensation above and beyond maintenance and cure benefits. This compensation typically covers expenses for medical treatment and rehabilitation, including compensation for expensive hospital bills and counseling. A seaman may also recover for the loss of his future earning capacity if the seaman is unable to return to work.

A claim for "unseaworthiness" is quite different. An unseaworthiness claim only requires the presence of an unsafe condition, hazardous procedure or policy or defective equipment. Once a seaman proves a vessel is unfit for its intended purpose, a court will impose strict liability on the employer or vessel owner, which means liability regardless of fault. Under this claim, an injured seaman can recover damages for medical expenses, physical injuries, pain and suffering and lost wages.

The third type of claim available to a seaman's survivors is a wrongful death claim under the Death on the High Seas Act. When a seaman is tragically killed at sea in the course of his or her employment, a surviving family member can bring a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf. This claim is similar to a negligence claim under the Jones Act. Upon proof that the employer or vessel owner's negligence caused the seaman's death, the deceased's family may recover damages for any medical expenses sustained in treating the deceased before his death, pain and suffering and the loss of familial income. The Jones Act can also supplement this statute and provide an additional means of recovery for the decedent's relatives.

An experienced Lafayette Jones Act attorney knows what it takes for a seaman to prove his or her case in court. At Broussard & David, our attorneys have years of experience helping injured seamen successfully bring claims under the Jones Act. We work to ensure you receive fair and adequate compensation for your injuries or loss. To discuss your questions with a Jones Act lawyer in Lafayette, contact Broussard & David at (888) 337-2323 (toll-free) or (337) 337-2323.

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