Jones Act

Sailors who are injured on the job are eligible for legal benefits and protections under the Jones Act. To ensure that your rights are protected, contact our experienced Bay Area Jones Act lawyers at Weltin, Streb & Weltin as soon as possible.

The Jones Act, known also as the Merchant Marine Act, extends the statutes of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) to seamen injured on the job.  Because of the dangers of offshore work, legislators changed the standing law to allow offshore workers to sue their employer and fellow employees. Before the Jones Act, longshore workers could not bring suit to an employer for such injuries caused by co-workers.

Working as an alternative to the no-fault workers’ compensation laws extended to most workers in California and to longshore workers under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Jones Act provides multiple additional benefits. While longshore workers are normally entitled to medical care while working on a ship, the Jones act adds additional benefits for injuries caused by the employer or coworkers “in the course of the seaman’s employment”. That specific terminology means that in some cases, a Jones Act worker can receive relief benefits when hurt while performing on-shore work.

For all Jones Act cases, the worker must be able to provide proof of negligence or fault by the employer or co-worker in order to obtain compensation. The cause of injury required under the Jones act is very liberal: the employer will be held liable if the negligence was any sort of contributing factor to the injury, known as the “featherweight” standard of causation. Any fault on the part of the worker might reduce the relief amount, but will not prevent him or her from receiving compensation. Third party negligence will not contribute to the ability to receive compensation, but suit can be brought against the third party under standard maritime law.

One issue that is common with these types of cases is whether a worker qualifies as a “seaman” in the eye of the law under the Jones Act. Often, this matter is obvious or otherwise undisputed, but in other cases it is not nearly as simple. Generally, the worker must be a crewmember of the vessel, one who makes a contribution to the mission or to the function of the vessel for an appropriate amount of time. Complications in the suite may arise when workers are injured on vessels that are not ships in the classical sense, like barges, drilling platforms, waterborne cranes and similar modern vessels.

These sort of mitigating factors are why it is so imperative to retain experienced Bay Area Jones Act attorneys to help you with your case. We have successfully represented injured Jones Act seamen and other maritime workers since 1972. Few other plaintiff attorneys have the same level of specific experience with theses complicated cases, and our substantial knowledge means that we are uniquely qualified to help with such lawsuits.

For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today at (510) 251-6060.