If you work on a vessel and were injured at sea, on the river, or while docked, you need to contact a St. Louis Jones Act lawyer. As a maritime worker, your right to compensation may not be as straightforward as it would be if you were employed in the construction industry. Instead of making a claim with your workers’ compensation insurance provider, you may need to sue your employer for damages. You may have to prove that your employer or another worker was negligent in some way. This can be difficult, and it may not be the only complexity to arise during a maritime case. To properly address the challenges of a maritime compensation case, contact The Cagle Law Firm. We are highly experienced with maritime claims, particularly for workers coming in and out of the Port of St. Louis.
To discuss your rights with a St. Louis maritime attorney and how we can help, contact us through our online form or call (314) 276-1681. We offer free consultations, so there is no risk in discussing your rights and options with an attorney.
The Jones Act: Compensation Rights for Seamen
The Jones Act is a federal law intended to provide certain maritime workers, specifically sailors and seamen, with the ability to sue their employer and obtain compensation for their injuries after a work-related accident on an American vessel. Also known as the Merchant Marine Act, it was initially passed in 1920. Before this law, maritime workers were very limited in when and how they could obtain compensation for their injuries.
If you were hurt while working on a barge, vessel or fleet and need to recover compensation, you should speak with a St. Louis Jones Act attorney right away. In some situations, you have the right to “maintenance and cure” and vocational training without proving who was at fault. This is typically true when you were injured at sea or one of the major waterways in the US such as the Mississippi River. You will need to prove you were a sailor on an American vessel operating in navigable waters. However, the Jones Act also covers situations in which an employee, officer, or agent of your employer was negligent or if you were required to work on an unseaworthy vessel. If you were injured on a docked vessel, you might need to prove negligence or unseaworthiness.
It is best to work with a St. Louis Jones Act lawyer who will investigate the situation and gather the evidence necessary to establish how you were injured, particularly if another person was negligent or if you were forced to work in an unsafe environment.
Who Is Covered by the Jones Act
The Jones Act covers your injuries if you are a seaman who spends at least 30 percent of your time on a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigation. Typically, workers covered under the Jones Act work on a vessel at sea consistently or permanently. What constitutes a vessel is broad and includes tugboats, transportation vessels, supply boats, cargo boats, drilling ships, and much more. Your position must contribute to the function or mission of the vessel or fleet.
Additionally, “in navigation” means the vessel has not been dry-docked or ceased operations. It does not mean the vessel must be out to sea at the time of the accident. The Jones Act can cover injuries that arose when a vessel was docked and when you were on land.
If you work on a ship, barge, or boat and were injured while working, call a St. Louis Jones Act lawyer to discuss your rights. You need to know whether your position is covered by the Jones Act. If you are a longshoreman or harbor worker, then you are likely not covered by the Jones Act. Instead, you should speak with an attorney about the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Common Maritime Injuries
Working on a vessel that navigates the waters in and around the U.S. or the world is challenging, particularly since you cannot control the weather or the sea. You must work with a small group of people within a confined space and an unforgiving environment. If one small task goes wrong, it could have serious consequences.
Some of the most common injuries seamen experience include:
- Open head injuries
- Bone fractures
- Penetrating head injuries
- Crushed limbs
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Eye injuries/vision loss
- Chemical inhalation injuries
- Electric shock
Compensation Under the Jones Act
If you are a seamen injured through work, then the Jones Act entitles you to maintenance and cure. Maintenance encompasses your daily living expenses, such as rent or your mortgage, utilities, and food. Cure includes all of your medical expenses related to the injury. You do not need to win a lawsuit to obtain maintenance and cure. However, that does not mean your employer will be forthcoming with this compensation or that they will offer you a fair daily rate for maintenance. By working with an attorney, you improve your chance of receiving an appropriate amount, even if you have yet to file or win a lawsuit.
If you can show that your injury arose due to the employer’s negligence, you may also obtain compensation for your physical pain, mental anguish, and loss of earning capacity. Additionally, the Jones Act covers vocational retraining if you must pursue another career.
In all, a St. Louis Jones Act lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Vocational training
Fatal Maritime Accidents
If your spouse, parent, or child was a seaman or sailor and was killed while working, call us at The Cagle Law Firm right away. You may have the right to sue your loved one’s employer if your relative died while working at sea or because of the employer’s negligence. We will thorough investigate the situation to determine what happened, why your loved one passed away, and who was at fault. Once we know who caused the fatal accident, we can determine liability under federal or state maritime law. The Jones Act may apply to your situation and enable you to recover compensation from your loved one’s employer.
Third-Party Liability Claims
You may be injured while working because of another person or business’s actions. Your injuries may not be your employer’s fault at all. Or, it could be that more than one factor caused the accident and your injuries, which may lead you to file both a Jones Act claim and a lawsuit against a third-party. In this situation, speak with a St. Louis Jones Act attorney about a third-party claim, including how it relates to your potential Jones Act claim and how it differs.
During a third-party claim, you may have the right to seek compensation for:
- Medical Costs
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Physical Limitations
- Loss of Future Earning Capacity
- Loss of Consortium and Companionship
- Punitive Damages (when applicable)
Let a St. Louis Jones Act Lawyer Help You
If you work in the maritime industry and are typically at sea, then you are probably covered by the Jones Act. After suffering an injury while working, you should contact an experienced maritime attorney who can protect your rights under the Jones Act and other relevant maritime laws. Our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm are well versed in maritime matters. We will conduct an independent and thorough investigation into your claim to determine who is liable for your injuries and the damages you are entitled to under the law. We will pursue the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injuries.
To learn more about your rights under the Jones Act, contact The Cagle Law Firm through our online form or at (314) 276-1681 to schedule a free case consultation.