Filing a Maritime Injury Lawsuit for Coworker Negligence
The Jones Act affords you many rights that aren’t available under state workers’ compensation programs. In addition to receiving maintenance and cure for your injuries, you could file a lawsuit against your employer or the vessel's owner. If successful, you could recover a substantial amount for your economic and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
By federal law, a shipowner or employer can be held liable for the negligence of any of the vessel's officers, agents, or employees, including a co-worker, for:
- Acts of assault. Long hours at sea can be stressful, but that’s no excuse for violence toward coworkers. Unfortunately, many people are hurt each year due to physical or sexual assault by someone on their vessel. If you were assaulted during your employment, you could hold your employer liable for failure to complete background checks, negligent hiring practices, or failure to institute workplace violence training and prevention programs.
- Failure to perform duties. Any crew member serving on a vessel must perform their duties with the utmost care and attention. You could be owed compensation if someone on your vessel failed to perform a necessary act that could have prevented your injuries, was intoxicated or distracted on the job, or did something unreasonable under the circumstances.
- Improper training. Your employer must train and educate seaman throughout the course of their employment. In particular, employers should have programs to prevent unsafe work methods, report hazardous work conditions, and instruct employees on properly using all equipment on the vessel. Failure to provide adequate instruction can make an employer or vessel owner liable for an injury even if they were not directly involved in the accident.
- Unseaworthy conditions. The owner or entity controlling a vessel has a duty of care to provide seamen with a reasonably safe place to work, known as a seaworthy vessel. Part of providing a seaworthy vessel is ensuring there are enough qualified workers onboard to complete the ship’s mission. If your injury resulted from the actions of an incompetent crew, the owner could be held liable for allowing work to continue on an unseaworthy vessel.
- Accidental death. The risk of injury is much higher for maritime employees than in other industries, and seaman can lose their lives in a matter of seconds. Families can hold employers and vessel owners accountable if they knew about a dangerous condition but failed to correct it.
We Can Explain Your Options Under the Jones Act at No Cost to You
The standard of proof in a Jones Act case is lower than in other injury claims, but the injured seaman still bears the burden of proving negligence. To prevail in your case, you must show that you were owed a duty of care, someone violated that duty of care, and you sustained damages as a result.
A successful Jones Act lawsuit could compensate you for:
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, and ongoing medical expenses
- Amputation or disfigurement
- Chronic pain
- Mental anguish
- Lost enjoyment of life
You should know that your employer, the vessel owner, or their insurance providers might try to push some or all of the blame on you for causing your injury. If they can get you to accept some of the responsibility, they can reduce the amount of your damages. Our attorneys fight to protect your rights and get you total compensation for an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
If you or someone you know has been injured at sea, call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or fill out our online contact form to begin your no-obligation consultation. You can also learn more about these types of claims in our complimentary guide, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.