Written by attorney Timothy Justin Young

Jones Act’s Requirement for Seaworthiness

Often, determining what is Jones Act lawsuit material can be difficult. Because injured workers are provided maintenance and cure benefits to pay for health care and daily living expenses, it may seem unnecessary to file a Jones Act claim. However, by definition, the Jones Act allows injured workers to file a claim against an employer or ship owner if they are injured due to negligence or ship unseaworthiness. Contact a Gulf Coast maritime lawyer to learn more about the Jones Act and to get started filing your claim.

What is the Jones Act’s requirement for seaworthiness?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that maritime workers have a more dangerous job than most due to long hours, exposure to the elements, and working with heavy machinery and cargo. That’s why, under the Jones Act, a ship owner owes a duty to his or her crew to provide a safe, secure and seaworthy vessel.

This means the ship must have working, well-maintained equipment, properly trained and prepared employees, instituted safety practices and procedures, and hazard-free routes for boarding, debarking and loading the ship. In a nutshell, the vessel, its workers and its practices must be functioning, well-maintained and sound.

Seaworthy means the ship:

  • is fit to withstand the expected hazards of the water;
  • has a crew that is trained and skilled to maintain the vessel;
  • has equipment that is in proper working condition;
  • is a safe place to live and/or work;
  • is fit to perform its intended function or use; and
  • has adequate safety gear, equipment and on-board practices.

When determining what Jones Act claim material is, a lawyer typically will look at the nature of your injury, as well as the seaworthiness of the vessel you were on. If the vessel lacked safety equipment, had poorly maintained decks or lacked the medical supplies necessary for its crew and these contributed to your injury or harm, you may have grounds for a Jones Act claim.

What is Unseaworthiness?

There are many examples of what could be deemed unseaworthy under definition of Jones Act laws, including: a poorly kept or maintained ship structure or on-board equipment; inadequate evacuation plans or medical supplies; defective equipment, machinery or other gear; inadequate crew or staff members; and dangerous on-board conditions, such as a presence of asbestos, oil on the deck and more.

Claims of unseaworthiness may need to be brought against the owner of the vessel on which you were injured instead of your actual employer. If you think your vessel may have been unseaworthy at the time of your injury, speak to a maritime lawyer serving the Gulf Coast immediately. By definition of Jones Act law, you only have three years in which to file a claim, so it’s important to act now.

Get Help from a Maritime Lawyer

Were you injured while working aboard an unseaworthy vessel? You could be due compensation for your pain, suffering, lost earning capacity, future medical bills and more.

See our free guide, Employee's Guide to Maritime Injury Law, to learn more about maritime lawsuits or call 1-504-680-4100 or 1-866-938-6113 to seek consultation with The Young Firm. We serve the Gulf Coast and can help you decide whether your case may qualify for a Jones Act claim.

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