The Jones Act Lawsuits

If you or a family member has been injured during the course of employment on a seagoing vessel, you may have a claim under the federal Jones Act. It is important to contact an attorney knowledgeable in the Jones Act to determine your possible personal injury claim and answer any questions you may have regarding the Jones Act.

Unsure if you are covered by the Jones Act? Contact the maritime lawyers of Stolpman, Krissman, Elber & Silver, LLP, to arrange a free consultation about your seaman injury case.  Our attorneys have more than 25 years experience  in representing maritime workers injured at sea.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a remedy for injured maritime workers. According to this act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 30104, “A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer.” An injured crew member may have a claim against his or her employer (ship owner) for negligence if the vessel is unseaworthy. It is the duty of the ship owner to maintain a vessel that is seaworthy, including the vessel, gear and appliances. This duty is absolute and not based on the fault of the ship owner.

According to the Jones Act, “A defective condition of the vessel which proximately causes the seaman’s injury makes the ship unseaworthy as to him.” This does not mean that the entire vessel is unfit or unseaworthy. The crewmembers remedy applies only against the owner of the vessel, gear or appliances. If you are a crewmember that has been injured while employed on a seagoing vessel, contact a maritime law lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

Seaworthiness is a Ship Owner’s Legal Duty

It is the duty of the ship owner to keep the ship, supplies and appliances in working order and seaworthy. If the vessel is deemed unseaworthy, the liability shifts to the ship owner and protects seamen from dangerous conditions that are beyond their control. The ship owner’s duty to provide a seaworthy ship is absolute, continuing and independent of the duty to exercise reasonable care.

An injured seaman may recover for injuries sustained if he or she is injured due to the unseaworthiness of the vessel. The seaman must show that a defect in the vessel or the vessel’s equipment existed and that the defect was the proximate cause of his or her injury. An injured party may also have a contractual claim against a ship owner. In every hiring contract between a ship owner and seaman is the implied warranty of the ship owner that the vessel is seaworthy at the beginning of the voyage. If a crew member is injured due to the unseaworthiness of the vessel, this may be a breach of contract.

Time Limit to File a Jones Act Lawsuit

Actions brought under the Jones Act are governed by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. 45 U.S.C.A. § 51. Therefore, the three-year time limitation for bringing the Jones Act lawsuit applies.

Generally, the cause of action begins to accrue (three-year time limit starts) when the injury is discovered. The statute of limitations begins to run when the injury and its cause are apparent or made known.

Our Attorneys Offer Expert Legal Representation to Injured Jones Act Workers

Some Jones Act injuries occur because of the unseaworthiness of the vessel. A boat owner is required to maintain a vessel in a seaworthy condition, one that makes it safe for its intended purpose. A seaworthy vessel must have adequate safety gear, a competent captain and crew, and be structurally and mechanically sound.

For more than 25 years, the attorneys of Stolpman, Krissman, Elber & Silver have successfully represented maritime workers who were injured by negligence. We have obtained substantial verdicts and settlements in cases on behalf of employees who were injured aboard a boat, ship or other vessel.

From offices in Long Beach, our lawyers represent clients in the Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California.  Contact our California maritime lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your case.