By:   Charles R. Lipcon


If you’re a seaman and you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury, it is critical that you immediately contact an experienced Jones Act lawyer such as the attorneys with Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. . LM&W, P.A.’s team of more than a dozen attorneys have nearly 200 years of combined experience and have helped our clients obtain more than $300 million in awards and settlements. Our expert maritime lawyers have appeared more than one hundred times on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and other major national and international programs because news networks know our firm is the undisputed authority on all matters involving maritime law.

What Is The Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law passed in 1920 designed to protect seamen who suffer harm while performing their jobs. Before the Jones Act became law, seamen could only collect damages from a ship owner if they were hurt because a vessel was deemed unseaworthy. They couldn’t pursue compensation due to the negligence of a member of the crew, or the ship’s master.

But the Jones Act changed all of that. There are now several different ways in which a seaman who can prove negligence can be compensated for losses that occur due to an injury.  For example, an injured maritime worker can recover money where the employer fails to provide a reasonably safe workplace

Even if the worker is hurt while away from the vessel, he or she may still be able to pursue compensation. If, for instance, the employee is hurt in a hotel paid for by the employer, and the injury occurred due to the negligence of hotel staff or management, the worker may be able to successfully pursue a Jones Act lawsuit.

Simply put, the Jones Act is extremely favorable for the crewmember and with the right, experienced attorneys on your side, your chances of obtaining a successful resolution are high.  

A Cloudy Definition

While the Jones Act offers substantial protection to maritime workers, you have to be considered a “seaman” in order to qualify to take legal action under the Act. However, the Act doesn’t define that term – it leaves that definition up to the courts.

In general, you will probably be considered a seaman if you spend 30 percent or more of your time at work on a seafaring vessel. Seamen typically include shipmasters, officers, captains and members of the crew.

You should talk to LM&W, P.A. to find out for sure if you’ll be able to file a Jones Act lawsuit.

If you are eligible to take legal action, then you may be able to pursue compensation for a wide range of different types of negligence on the part of a vessel’s master or owner. These are just a few examples:

  • Negligent instruction or supervision that leads to an injury.
  • Failure to provide necessary medical treatment.
  • Failure to show the proper care when hiring crew and masters.
  • Failure to avoid dangerous weather when navigating the vessel.
  • Negligent orders.
  • Failure to provide proper tools of equipment for the job.  
  • Failure to adequately staff the vessel.  

Potential damages you may be able to pursue through a Jones Act lawsuit include:

  • Medical bills
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium or support
  • Funeral expenses
  •  And many others

If the injury caused by negligence leads to death, the seaman’s family may be able to sue for pain and suffering the victim experienced before dying, as well as other significant damages

The Potential for Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are typically much greater than those usually awarded in a lawsuit. The reason is that they’re designed to “punish” the defendant, and change the defendant’s behavior. There is a chance you may be able to obtain punitive damages through a Jones Act lawsuit, but this is generally reserved for unique situations where the conduct of the shipowner or employer is particularly heinous

One particular place where punitive damages are often awarded is in failure to provide maintenance and cure cases.  In order to understand whether or not you will be eligible for punitive damages, it is important to understand the term “maintenance and cure.” This term applies when you are injured, regardless of the fault of the employer, and it provides a daily living allowance for room and board and also the obligation to pay for medical expenses until the point of maximum medical improvement (“MMI”) has been determined by a treating doctor.  

If you’ve been hurt, your employer is obligated to pay for your maintenance and cure until you’ve reached MMI.  In a maintenance and cure case, you may be able to seek punitive damages if the following circumstances apply:

  • Your employer callously or willfully failed to provide maintenance and cure.
  • The employer delayed maintenance and cure payments.
  • The employer terminated maintenance and cure payments for no good cause.

You Need to Take Action Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out

As with many kinds of lawsuits, there is a statute of limitations associated with Jones Act legal action. The statute of limitations is basically a deadline for filing a claim. Once that deadline passes, you can no longer sue. Jones Act lawsuits generally must be filed within three years of the date that the injury occurred, or three years from the date when a reasonable seaman would have known about the negligent conduct that caused his or her injury.

The Jones Act lawyers with LM&W, P.A. can answer any and all of your questions. Please contact us online or call (877) 233-1238 for a free consultation.

The Jones Act Claims Process

In order to have your best chance of winning a Jones Act lawsuit, you’ll need the help of a skilled attorney with LM&W, P.A. This is a very complex area of the law, but we have decades of experience, and we have an unparallel record of success for our clients.  

This is a very brief look at the process of filing a Jones Act claim. Get in touch with us to learn more.

  • First, you should immediately report the injury to your employer.
  • Get the medical treatment you need for your injury. Ask your doctor for a detailed report of not only the injury, but also the treatment you need.
  • You’ll likely be asked to provide details of the accident for your employer’s report, but don’t do so until you speak with one of our Jones Act lawyers. There’s a chance your employer could use your statement against you.
  •  Contact LM&W, P.A. so that we can help ensure you’re compensated for the suffering you’ve had to endure. If you choose to file a lawsuit, we’ll determine the strategy that has the best chance for success.

How a Jones Act Lawyer with LM&W, P.A. Can Help

The Jones Act lawyers with LM&W, P.A. will be happy to go over your case in great detail and answer any questions you may have. We are the premier maritime law firm in the country, named “Lawyer of the Year in Admiralty and Maritime 2020” by US News & World Report. When you turn to us, you’ll be working with a law firm that is known for compassion, integrity and excellence. We will fight passionately to ensure your rights are always protected, and we will work tirelessly to obtain the maximum compensation available under the law

Use our online contact form or call (877) 233-1238.