Maritime Accident & Injury Lawyer

Maritime Lawyers, Admiralty Lawyers, Offshore Lawyers & Port of  Jones Act Lawyers are here to serve you!

The United States is home to many large container ports, oil and gas ports, and bulk shipping ports. Many workers and vessels go in and out of these ports each day. Inevitably, accidents on these vessels and offshore rigs sometimes cause injury to the workers who keep them running. When this happens, a variety of legal courses of action might be advisable, from a Jones Act claim, to a claim under the General Maritime Law, or, in some cases where certain Jones Act requirements are not met, a claim under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHW). For advice regarding your legal rights following an injury sustained while in the employ of a vessel, contact one of the maritime law attorneys listed above. maritime lawyers are some of the best in the country and can help you successfully pursue a claim for compensation if you have been injured on the job.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that covers seaman injured on the job. Before the Jones Act was passed by Congress in 1920, there were no written laws or statutes designed to protect seamen and their families in the event that they were injured on the job. Thus, injured seamen were required to resort to the "common law," or General Maritime Law, which is the judge-made law passed down over time and slowly incorporated into the legal system. With the passage of the Jones Act, seamen were finally able to enjoy more predictable and immediate benefits when they were injured.  

Unlike workers' compensation laws, which actually prohibit an injured worker from suing his employer while collecting benefits, the Jones Act requires a seaman to file a Jones Act claim to receive any compensation. Also unlike workers' comp, the Jones Act is a "fault-based" system and the injured worker must show that the employer was negligent and/or that the vessel he was working on was "unseaworthy." "Unseaworthiness" signifies that some condition on the vessel made it "not fit for its intended purpose." An injured Jones Act seaman is also entitled to "maintenance and cure," which is similar to workers' comp, although it is not statutory like workers' comp. Under the Jones Act, an employer can also be held liable for Punitive Damages for arbitrarily and capriciously denying payment of maintenance and/or cure benefits. Thus, the Jones Act is a tremendous tool which allows maritime attorneys successfully to pursue claims for accidents and injuries suffered by offshore workers and seamen.

What damages can a Maritime Lawyer get you under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law? 

The first type of remedy generally available to injured seamen is compensation for maintenance and cure. As part of maintenance and cure, the employee may receive compensation for transportation and wages until the voyage is complete, and for maintenance and cure until the seaman has reached "maximum medical cure." "Maximum medical cure" occurs when further medical treatment will no longer improve the seaman's condition. Unfortunately, this means that if a disease or injury is medically incurable, like a missing limb, maximum medical cure exists as soon after the wound is closed. The general maritime law may provide compensation for injuries or death when the vessel in question is found "unseaworthy" in some respect. A vessel is deemed unseaworthy when the vessel or its crew were not reasonably fit for their intended use and the defect caused or contributed to the seaman's injuries. Courts have generally interpreted these terms liberally in favor of injured seamen and maritime attorneys are experienced with litigating offshore injury claims.

Who qualifies as a Jones Act seaman?

The Jones Act encompasses a broad range of persons into its definition of "seaman." In addition to full time members of the crew, masters of the vessel and other employees who have a substantial connection to the vessel will likely be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained on the job. The general rule is that any employee that spends over 30% of his or her time on a vessel in navigation will qualify for seaman status. To recover, the seaman/employee must also work on a vessel that operates on navigable waterways and is engaged in interstate commerce. An experienced Maritime Lawyer will be familiar with these laws and can advise you of your status as either a seaman, longshoreman, or otherwise, and help you navigate the legal system regardless of whether you are technically considered a Jones Act seaman.

For a complete COLREGS U.S.C.G. manual on Navigation, including lighting, click here.

How long do you have to file a Jones Act or General Maritime Law claim?

Generally, both Jones Act claims for maintenance and cure or General Maritime Law claims for unseaworthiness against a vessel owner may be filed up to three (3) years from the date of injury. However, when the case is being brought against the U.S. government, the statute of limitations may be somewhat shorter.

Contact a Jones Act lawyer immediately upon being injured to be advised of your legal rights.

Other Helpful Information & Links

American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20314-1000