Those who are employed by a maritime company, such as a cruise ship or cargo operator, are often protected by a maritime law known as the Jones Act. A federal law, the Jones Act protects crew members who are involved in work-related workplace accidents that occur because of the ship’s “unseaworthiness” – which is often the product of the vessel owner or operator’s failure to maintain a safe shipboard environment. But while the Jones Act generally only applies to workplace accidents that happen in the vessel is in U.S. waters, traveling between U.S. ports, or in maritime territories that have strong ties to the U.S., are crew members still able to file a Jones Act claim if they are injured on land while in the service of their vessel? In many cases, the answer is yes!
If the injury is the result of the maritime company’s own negligence in providing a safe environment for their crew, then the victim may be able to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act regardless of whether the accident took place at sea or ashore. In fact, a maritime crew member doesn’t even have to be aboard a ship for the Jones Act to offer them protection. A crew member may be able to file a Jones Act claim while the ship was docked or even if they were working on the pier. It all boils down to the actual work they were doing. As long as the crew member who was hurt was in the service of their vessel when the injury occurred, the law can still apply and help them recover damages.
But why is that? First off, because the Jones Act is designed to protect seafarers. Any maritime crew member who generally spends 35% or more of their time working aboard a vessel and contributes to the mission of that vessel is considered to be a seafarer. If this applies to the injured maritime worker, then they may be able to file a Jones Act claim. And, with the help of an experienced Jones Act lawyer, the victim may be able to obtain compensation if their employer is shown to have provided an unsafe working environment.
As you can see, the Jones Act is a very complex law. Even crew members who may not believe their injuries merit compensation should always consult with an experienced Jones Act attorney to determine whether or not they may be able to file a Jones Act claim. Because the vast majority of crew member accidents result from their employer’s failure to provide a safe working environment, the chances of securing a successful outcome for a case tends to be in the victim’s favor.