Living near the coast, we know that a lot of Mobile area citizens work on maritime vessels or offshore rigs. But what qualifies an accident to be labeled a “maritime accident”? A maritime accident is any accident involving a ship or other marine craft. Some examples are vessel collisions, faulty design, capsizing, explosions, falling overboard, oil rig accidents, and even shipyard accidents. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has declared that commercial fishing alone is the most dangerous job in the country.
With the known dangerous of this industry and profession, regulations have been put into place to protect maritime workers. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is a federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. Waters. The actual wording of the law says that all “seaman” are covered. But due to case law and previous verdicts, that definition has been narrowed to someone who works on a vessel that is navigable waters. It includes a section on Seaman’s rights which lays out the steps and restrictions for injured maritime employees to recover compensation for their injuries from their employers. Victims of a maritime accident can seek money damages when their injuries are the result of the careless or negligent acts of an employer or coworker.
Now, how are Jones Act claims different than Worker’s Comp? One big difference is the amount of compensation you may be able to receive, especially in cases where the company acted negligently. In a workers’ comp case it doesn’t matter if the employer, employee, or coworker was responsible for injuries. Fault plays no role in one’s ability to file this type of claim. While compensation is available to injured maritime workers, regardless of fault through maintenance and cure benefits, a Jones Act claim can be filed based only on an employer’s negligence.
Should you have further questions about maritime accidents or think you might have a case, please call our office at (251) 300-2000, or drop by our office anytime at 51 North Florida Street