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What should you know about Jones Act negligence claims?

The Jones Act allows seamen under your employ to take legal action if they suffer injuries on the job. They may seek to recover compensation for their injury-associated losses, including medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

To help protect yourself and your interests, you may find it helpful to understand negligence claims under the Jones Act.

Defining negligence

According to the Jones Act, the court may consider you a negligent employer if you violate the standards specified in the act. The law requires you to use basic care to keep your vessel in a reasonably safe condition. Further, you must provide the seamen you employ a reasonably safe work environment. Unsafe conditions that may constitute negligence on your part may include improperly maintained or broken down equipment, not providing workers with the proper equipment to perform their jobs, using unsafe work methods, and not properly training the injured seaman or the whole crew.

Understanding the burden of proof

Injury claims under the Jones Act require plaintiffs to prove that a violation of the act caused their injuries. This differs from personal injury claims, for example, which require plaintiffs to show the negligence of the defendants directly caused their injuries. Therefore, you may face legal action and have to pay damages even if your alleged negligence played only a minor role in causing a seaman’s injuries.

Maintaining your vessel and ensuring you fully comply with the stipulations of the Jones Act may help prevent negligence-based injury claims by seamen, which may threaten the continued operation and success of your business.