Who Pays for Damages Under the Jones Act?

Written by: Roy Boujaoude

The Jones Act Gives Protections to Off-Shore Employees

If you were injured while working on a ship transporting goods for an employer, that employer could be liable for damages. This is allowed via the Jones Act, which extends the protections of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act to maritime workers.

Your rights to compensation for your injuries are clear, but the requirements for filing a personal injury claim under the Jones Act are not always cut and dry. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process. Contact The Law Office of Roy A. Boujaoude, P.C. for a review of your case, or keep reading for more information.

What is the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, was proposed by Senator Wesley Jones of Washington state. The primary purpose of the act was to require all maritime shipping between US states to be with US-built and owned ships and staffed with primarily US citizens. 

However, the act also extends the protections of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act to include merchant marine workers. This act allows workers on merchant ships in the US to collect damages in a personal injury claim when they are injured on the job due to employer negligence. 

What is the Federal Employers’ Liability Act?

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act of 1908 allows railway workers traveling between states to file personal injury claims against their employers for injuries caused by employer negligence. The law requires employers or their representatives (insurance companies) to compensate workers for these injuries.

To gain compensation, workers must prove that the employer was negligent and that this negligence caused the injury. Proving negligence can be a complicated matter, and it is best left to an experienced attorney.

Who Pays Damages Under the Jones Act?

Employers are liable for damages, but employers are also required to carry insurance to cover those damages when they arise. For this reason, your payments for a maritime personal injury claim are most likely to come from an insurance company.

Damages under the Jones Act are paid either in a lump sum or by annuity, which is periodic payments. You have the choice of how you want to receive your compensation, but there are important considerations in making this decision. It is best to have an attorney who understands all of the implications of lump sum or annuity payments so that you can make the right choice.

What Damages are Available Under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act?

If you have been injured on a merchant ship, you can collect the following damages:

  • Medical bills from initial treatment up to the time of the claim
  • Future medical costs related to the injury
  • Lost wages during recovery or lost income due to the inability to return to work
  • Pain and suffering

A wrongful death claim can also be filed if you lost a loved one to a maritime accident caused by employer negligence. In a wrongful death claim under these acts, you may receive damages for lost inheritance and pain and suffering.

Why You Shouldn’t Take the First Settlement Offer

Insurance companies are famous for giving lowball offers to injured workers under any protective laws, and this is definitely true of claims paid under the Jones Act. The first settlement offer may only cover your medical expenses up to the time of the claim, may not cover future medical expenses, and likely will not include an amount for pain and suffering.

It is important that you have an attorney on your side to help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If the insurance company or employer denies negligence, you may need an attorney to help you take the case to court. However, note that the Jones Act does not typically result in a jury trial.

Let Our Law Office Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve

The Jones Act protects you in your time of injury, but you must prove negligence first. The entire process of filing a personal injury claim under the Jones Act is complex and best handled with the assistance of an attorney.
Attorney Roy Boujaoude has been practicing law in Houston since 2005 and has helped many maritime workers with their personal injury claims under the Jones Act. Contact us today at (713) 690-2277 for a free consultation.

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No matter what the circumstances of your case, Attorney Roy Boujaoude can help. Contact our office today at (713) 690-2277 for a free case consultation. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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