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WHAT THE JONES ACT PROVIDES
The Jones Act provides recovery and compensation when a seaman is injured or killed because of the negligence of his employer or his co-employee. Though there have traditionally been common law maritime remedies for seamen, the Jones Act filled in the large gap in coverage for seamen injured by the actions of their co-workers. This means that your employer is liable for the negligence of any of his officers, agents, or employees. As long as the actions of your co-employee are within the scope of his employment, you can recover compensation from your employer under the Jones Act.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that in order to recover under the Jones Act, you must prove that your employer did something unreasonable or failed to act reasonably, and you were injured as a result. The same is true for your co-employees. If a coworker acted unreasonably or failed to act in a reasonable manner within the scope of his employment duties and you were injured, you can recover under the Jones Act.
Specifically, an employer must do the following:
- An employer must provide a safe working environment. If there are any known dangerous working conditions, your employer has a duty to warn you about them. Any injuries that might result from such a condition will be covered under the Jones Act.
- An employer must provide adequate training for you to perform your job, and adequate instructions for any tasks that you are asked to perform. This is an ongoing duty and is critical to provide all employees with adequate protection.Although a seaman does have a duty to protect himself, courts do not usually place much weight on this duty. This means that if a seaman was injured while carrying out orders, even if the seaman realized that there might have been some danger inherent in doing so, he will not be held to be contributorily negligent.
- An employer must provide safe and adequate equipment, and must provide adequate instructions on how to use such equipment.
- An employer must provide adequate crew to perform all duties. If you are asked to perform a job that requires assistance in order to be performed properly and safely, then lack of such assistance can be considered a Jones Act violation.
- An employer’s violation of a safety statue constitutes negligence per se (proof of negligence in and of itself) if the violation actually contributed to the seaman’s injury. The purpose of the statute itself is not relevant to Jones Act application.
- An employer owes a seaman the duty to rescue if he has fallen overboard, without regard to the employer’s negligence. Every reasonable means available must be used to rescue the seaman.
- An employer owes a seaman the duty of providing adequate medical care, and if he fails to do so, this is also a Jones Act violation. Any doctor that the seaman is referred to must be competent, and if he is not, your employer will be liable for the worsening of your condition.
As stated above, all of these employer duties can provide the basis for a Jones Act lawsuit, but additionally, the negligent actions of employees, officers, and agents of the employer can also give rise to a Jones Act claim. This is a very useful and valuable remedy. Contact a Jones Act Attorney today to see if your injury falls within this or any other remedy.
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Damages and Defenses Under the Jones Act