Working at sea can be an exciting career choice which is safe under ordinary conditions with proper precautions in place but can be potentially dangerous in some circumstances. The fact is, long hours and hard work makes people tired and can lead to mistakes. Add foul weather conditions, and an accident is likely to happen on occasion. Fortunately, the United States government recognized the nature of such jobs and incorporated conditions into the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, to protect sailors. When an injury occurs at sea, it’s important for the sailor to discuss their rights with a Jones Act lawyer, a specialist who understands the intricacies of the law and how it applies to worker’s rights.
Examples of Jones Act Cases
- Unsafe working conditions, whether created by the employer or co-workers on the ship are defined and protected against by the Jones Act. Such conditions would normally be covered by OSHA on land, but their jurisdiction doesn’t extend to international waters so the Jones Act provides such protections. In addition to general unsafe conditions, such a rule also demands proper safety equipment be provided and the vessel be in proper working order to be considered a safe environment.
- Similar to unsafe conditions is negligence, which applies to injuries that theoretically should not have happened had proper safety protocols been followed.
- After an accident occurs, regardless of where the blame (if any) might fall, the Jones Act assures the employer maintains their responsibility to provide both immediate and follow up care. Many injuries require immediate on-site care followed by an on-shore hospital procedure, and the patient may need ongoing rehabilitation to deal with ongoing pain or disabilities.
Considerations toward Maintaining a Safe Vessel
Unsafe working conditions need to be reported to a Jones Act lawyer before they result in an accident. An employer who hires an incompetent crew can be held liable for injuries, as can a situation in which the captain or owner of a ship allows the sailors to contribute to unsafe practices. Likewise, a ship not being used for its intended purpose, such as running a fishing expedition with a cargo ship, can make the owner especially culpable in the case of an accident. Because it’s impossible to foresee every accident that can occur, the Jones Act allows for general common sense to determine what other types of unsafe practices may be conducted on board.
Any work related injury requires a lawyer to assure the patient’s rights are maintained, but because of nuances in maritime law a specialist Jones Act lawyer is necessary to review the case. The injured person needs to focus on the hardest task, that of healing fully, so they can proceed with a normal life, the lawyer can help work out the legal obstacles toward such a goal.