When a member of the crew of a commercial vessel suffers a serious work-related injury, that individual can file a personal injury lawsuit pursuant to a federal statute known as the Jones Act. Whether a vessel is at sea or moored at port in navigable waters, the Jones Act applies. If you believe that you suffered a serious injury that falls under the purview of the Jones Act, legal representation by an experienced and effective offshore injury lawyer will operate in your best interests.
Who is a Seaman?
The Jones Act is silent on defining what a seaman is. Employees who qualify as seamen will work either inland or offshore on any of the following vessels or rigs:
- Tugboats or pushboats.
- Construction and dredging vessels.
- Crew and supply boats.
- Tankers and cargo ships.
- Diving and fishing boats.
- Cruise liners.
- Drilling ships
- Jack-up rigs.
- Semi-submersible rigs.
Unsafe Vessel Conditions
Given the hazardous nature of a seaman’s work, a high number of accidents and injuries occur that can result in permanent disfigurement, disability or death. When offshore injuries or deaths are caused by the carelessness and negligence of the owners or operators of unsafe vessels, seamen or their surviving family members become eligible to seek compensation fo damages. Here are some of the conditions that an offshore injury lawyer might see that can make a vessel unsafe:
- Insufficient equipment or crew members to perform a job safely.
- Insufficient or inoperable safety equipment.
- Orders from supervisors that fail to contemplate the safety of crew members.
- Negligent supervision.
- Inadequate or improper training.
- Failure to folllow U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
The Burden of Proof
Jones Act cases have a lower burden of proof than other types of personal injury cases. Injured seamen or a deceden”s survivors need merely show some evidence that negligence caused his or her injuries. In other types of personal injury cases, the claimant would need to prove causation by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s a higher burden that is open to considerably more defenses.
Notwithstanding the fact that Jones Act cases have a lower burden for proving causse of injuries or death, the nature and extent of an injury must still be proved along with any permanent disfigurement and/or disability. Those are what the value of a Jones Act case pivot on. Other damages considerations arise in death cases. A dedicated, respected and aggressive offshore injury lawyer will be needed to prove such critical damages issues. Operate in your own best interests. Give yourself the best chance possible for the maximum compensation that you deserve for your damages by retaining a quality offshore injury lawyer for your Jones Act case.