The Jones Act is a federal statute that requires that goods transported between United States ports are to be carried on vessels that are owned and operated by citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The full copy of the Jones Act can be found in Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.
But the Jones Act doesn’t only apply to maritime commerce—it also provides significant protections to maritime workers classified as “seaman” under the Jones Act by allowing them to bring direct negligence actions against their employers following a workplace injury. This is a stark contrast to the traditional workers’ compensation scheme that prevents most land-based workers (and longshoremen) from maintaining negligence claims against the companies they work for.
All manner of commercial vessels may fall under the Jones Act, including but not limited to tugboats, tankers, oilfield service vessels, container and cargo ships, cruise ships, and commercial fishing vessels. The Jones Act even extends to some offshore drilling rigs, drilling ships, and production platforms designed to a reasonably practical degree for transporting persons or cargo over navigable waters.
Three Requirements Must Be Met for the Jones Act to Apply
There are three requirements that must be satisfied in order to be eligible for Jones Act compensation:
- The person must fit the definition of a “seaman” as outlined in the Act;
- The incident must occur within the course of the person’s job ; and
- The person’s illness or damage must be the product of their employer’s or another employee’s negligence.
The Definition of a “Seaman”
Only those who are deemed “seamen” are covered by the Act. Under the Jones Act, a person qualifies as a seaman if they have a connection to a vessel or a fleet of vessels that is substantial in both time and nature.
Courts generally consider whether a person’s labor supports a ship’s function or the attainment of the vessel’s goals or missions when deciding whether that person meets the Act’s definition of a seaman.
Contract employees, longshoremen, and port workers are not eligible for the Jones Act seaman status, though they may be able to file lawsuits for their injuries under other maritime statutes or general maritime law.
There Are Three Types of Actions You Can Assert as a Jones Act Seaman
Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, a seaman may assert claims for (1) Jones Act negligence, (2) unseaworthiness and/or (3) maintenance and cure. These claims are described below.
(1) Jones Act Negligence
The seaman’s first claim, under the federal law known as the Jones Act, is that his/her employer was negligent, and that this negligence was a cause of his/her injuries. Jones Act employers can be negligent for:
- doing an act that a reasonably prudent person would not do,
- failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do, under the same or similar circumstances,
- failing to provide for the safety of the crew,
- failing to comply with a duty required by law,
- assigning the seaman to perform a task that he/she was not adequately trained to perform and/or
- failing to provide a reasonably safe place to work
Significantly, in a Jones Act claim, the word “negligence” is liberally interpreted. For example, Jones Act employers bear the responsibility for any negligence that played a part, however slight, in causing a seaman’s injuries. Further, the fact that an employer conducted its operations like that of other companies is not dispositive of whether it was or was not negligent.
The seaman’s second claim is for unseaworthiness of a vessel that caused his/her injuries. A shipowner owes every member of the crew employed on its vessel the absolute duty to keep and maintain the vessel and all its decks and passageways, appliances, gear, tools, parts, and equipment in a seaworthy condition at all times. A seaworthy vessel is one that is “reasonably fit for its intended use.”
The duty to provide a seaworthy vessel extends to the duty to supply an adequate and competent crew. And a vessel may be unseaworthy even though it has a numerically adequate crew, if too few persons are assigned to a given task.
The duty to provide a seaworthy vessel is said to be “absolute” because the owner may not delegate that duty to anyone else. Significantly, liability for an unseaworthy condition does not in any way depend on negligence or fault or blame—if an owner does not provide a seaworthy vessel, no amount of care or prudence excuses the owner from liability.
(3) Maintenance and cure
A seaman’s third claim is for what is called “maintenance and cure.” “Maintenance” refers to the cost of food, lodging, and transportation. “Cure,” on the other hand, refers to the medical care owed to a seaman who suffers an injury or illness while working in the service of the ship. Cure is owed until the seaman reaches what’s known as “maximum medical improvement.”
A seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure even if he/she is not injured as a result of any negligence on the part of his employer or any unseaworthy condition of the vessel. To recover maintenance and cure, a seaman need only show that he/she suffered injury or illness while in the service of the vessel on which he/she was employed as a seaman.
If, after investigating a maintenance and cure claim, the employer unreasonably rejects the claim, the employer is liable for both the maintenance and cure payments and for compensatory damages caused by the unreasonable failure to pay. Additionally, the employer may have to pay punitive damages and attorney’s fees if it is determined that its failure to pay maintenance and cure was not only unreasonable but was also a willful and wanton disregard of the seaman’s claim for maintenance and cure.
If a judge or jury finds that an employer is liable for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness, then the seaman is entitled to compensation. The following damages can be recovered:
- past and future physical pain and suffering, including physical disability, impairment, and inconvenience, and the effect of the seamen’s injuries and inconvenience on the normal pursuits and pleasures of life;
- past and future mental anguish and feelings of economic insecurity caused by the disability;
- income lost in the past;
- impairment of earning capacity or ability in the future, including impairment of the seaman’s earning capacity due to his/her physical condition;
- past medical expenses; and
- future medical expenses
Even Seamen Who Were Partially at Fault for Their Injuries Could Be Eligible for Compensation Under the Jones Ac
Even if they contributed to the accident or incident that led to their injuries, seamen are nonetheless eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. Even if they played just a small part in the harm, vessel owners may still be held accountable. The total amount of damages, however, may be reduced to account for the percentage of fault attributed to the injured seaman.
Family Members Can Assert Jones Act Claims on Behalf of their Loved Ones Involved in Fatal Maritime Accidents
When a family member passes away due to a sickness or injury sustained at work on a vessel, the Jones Act gives the family the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The seaman’s death must have happened while he or she was working for the employer in connection with the vessel, just like with other Jones Act claims, and as a result of that employer’s carelessness.
Get in Touch with a Reputable Maritime Law Attorney Today
You may be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one were hurt while working in the service of a vessel.
And, whatever you do, please do not accept any settlement offers from your employer or their insurance carrier before speaking with a qualified maritime attorney like those at Huber Thomas, LLP.
When you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence , you may have grounds to bring a personal injury claim against them.. But you do not have an unlimited time to do so; you need to bring the action before the deadline for filing expires. We call that filing deadline the “prescriptive period” here in Louisiana, while the rest of the country refers it as the “statute of limitations.” Missing the deadline could mean that you are time-barred from bringing the claim altogether.
While other states allow injured parties to file suits as long as four years after the accident, in Louisiana, you generally have just one year to file a personal injury claim. That is why it is important to talk to an attorney sooner rather than later. You do not want to lose out on the compensation you deserve due to personal injury statute of limitations.
What is the Purpose of the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
The main reason there are statutes of limitations is due to the erosion of evidence over time. If you are involved in a car accident today but do not bring a lawsuit for ten years, it would be difficult for either party to build a case.
They would likely not have access to witnesses, all physical evidence would likely have been destroyed, and their memory might not be clear about what happened either. The personal injury statute of limitations aims to ensure that both parties can build their strongest possible case so that justice can be served.
When Does the Clock Start on the Statute of Limitations
The "clock" of the statute of limitations generally starts ticking in most personal injury claims on the day the harm occurred. For instance, the date the collision happened in an automobile accident case.
What Happens if I File After the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Although there are a few exceptions, you should know that a court may dismiss your case if you bring a lawsuit after the applicable statute of limitations period has expired. You could lose your chance to get a judgment ordering compensation for your losses and injuries.
What Are the Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations in Louisiana?
For most personal injury cases in Louisiana, you have one year from the date of the accident to bring the case. However, several exceptions to that general rule may apply.
What Are the Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations in Louisiana?
Cases Involving Minor Children
The statute of limitations for accidents involving a child permanently injured by defective products begins on the child's 18th birthday, not the day of the event. Accordingly, regardless of their age at the time of the accident, they lose their right to submit a claim when they turn 19.
Multiple At-Fault Parties
The statute of limitations may be interrupted when a plaintiff brings a personal injury claim against one of several culpable parties before the deadline for filing. The plaintiff may then file a lawsuit against additional at-fault parties if an inquiry turns up further proof. A multi-vehicle collision is one illustration of this.
The Discovery Rule
After an accident, you can often quickly tell that you are injured and what caused that injury--consider an automobile or truck accident for example. Some injuries, however, do not have a "reasonably discoverable" underlying cause until years later.
When an injury or damage is not immediately obvious, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim "knows or should reasonably know" that their injury is related to the person or entity that caused it. In other words, the victim must genuinely become aware of the problem before the time begins to run.
This is known as "the discovery rule," and it frequently applies to situations involving defective products, exposure to dangerous substances, and medical malpractice. A good example of this would be a products liability case where a particular chemical compound caused a plaintiff to experience injuries that were not immediately apparent.
Other Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Various other exceptions could apply, including:
- The plaintiff is deemed mentally incompetent
- The claimant is a prisoner
- The accused filed for bankruptcy
- The defendant is not within the state's or the county's purview
- Negotiations for a resolution are still going on between the two parties
Your injury attorney can help you determine if your case qualifies for one of the exceptions.
Does the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Apply to Wrongful Death Cases Too?
Yes. However, there is one main distinction. While the clock on a typical personal injury case will begin on the date of the injury, a wrongful death case's clock begins on the date of the death.
For example, if your loved one suffered an accident on June 1st but survived for another six months, the clock to file a wrongful death case would start on the date of their death – not on the June 1st date of their accident.
Timely Lawsuits in the State of Louisiana
It’s important that you act quickly if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Louisiana. Your inability to file in a timely manner ultimately hurts you and your family if you’re seeking compensation for your damages.
If you believe you have grounds for a personal injury case, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you have questions about statutes of limitations, or a personal injury claim, we at the Huber Thomas, LLP want to hear from you.Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have at 504-274-2509.
If you have been involved in an accident, you need the best possible representation on your side. Many people in this position have never needed an attorney before and are unsure how to find the right one. Continue reading for simple tips to help you find the best personal injury attorney in New Orleans.
1. Choose a Trial Attorney Even if You Do Not Expect Your Case to Go to Trial
95% of personal injury disputes are settled outside of court. This might lead you to assume you do not need a trial attorney. The fact is that while it is much more likely that you will not need an attorney with trial experience, you do not want to find yourself facing a trial with an attorney who is not prepared to take it on.
Working with a trial attorney assures you have choices and adaptability if the case cannot be negotiated as planned. It means you can be confident and dominate at the negotiation table, knowing you have your bases covered.
Most personal injury victims do not want to take their case to court because it costs more money, takes more time, and juries can be unpredictable. However, remember that this is true of the person or company you are suing, too.
Opposing counsel will be more inclined to offer a reasonable settlement if they know that your team is prepared to litigate the matter. We strongly suggest collaborating with a personal injury attorney in New Orleans who has the self-assurance to succeed at trial and obtain compensation if the case does go to court.
2. Have a List of Questions Ready to Go
You can learn a lot about an attorney by reading through their website, but you'll likely have additional questions. Before you set up a consultation, ensure you have a list of questions to which you need answers. Some questions we suggest asking include:
- Have you taken on cases similar to mine?
- What types of outcomes have you had in cases similar to mine?
- How long do you think the case will take to resolve?
- Will I be dealing with a single attorney, or will I have your entire law firm behind me?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- What do you think the strengths and weaknesses in my cases will be?
These are just a few of the general questions we recommend asking. You can also ask questions specific to your case. Just remember that an initial consultation is not a full strategy session. The attorney in question will not have access to all the facts, will not yet have spoken with expert witnesses, and will only be able to briefly review your case. That said, they should have enough information to give you a basic game plan.
3. Know What You Don’t Want to Hear
Ideally, your personal injury attorney in New Orleans will be straightforward and honest from the beginning. If they make promises that they can obtain a certain outcome or assurances that they can absolutely complete your case within a certain time frame, you should leave and find someone else.
The truth is that even the best attorney in the world cannot guarantee an outcome. You want someone who will fight tirelessly for you and who will be honest about the likelihood of the best possible outcome. You need an attorney you can trust.
4. Choose an Attorney Who Can Help You Handle Your Medical Bills
If you do not believe that your insurance company will pay 100% of your medical bills, and you are facing significant medical bills due to an accident in which someone else was negligent, you should contact an attorney immediately.
At Huber Thomas Law, we will work with nearby hospitals, healthcare organizations, and your insurance while preparing for your case. We can help you navigate the complexities of your medical expenses, insurance claims, applications for government assistance programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, and if you were injured at work, Workers' Compensation claims.
We know that you already have a lot on your plate after suffering a catastrophic injury. Huber Thomas Law will help with your legal and financial concerns so you may concentrate on getting better.
5. The Law Can Be Confusing – Your Personal Injury Attorney in New Orleans Shouldn’t Be
Financial and insurance documents frequently include legalese that the average individual cannot understand. They are needlessly intricate, especially when a single word can make or break your case.
At Huber Thomas Law, we take great pride in being tenacious defenders of our clients. Our goal is to thoroughly explain everything you should know. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us anytime. A group of attorneys with a track record of success will be able to assist you. Additionally, you frequently don't pay anything unless we prevail in your case.
6. Their Payment Requirements Should Be Clear
It is often the case that personal injury attorneys take a case on a contingency basis. This means that there is no upfront cost. Their fee comes from the settlement or jury award they secure for you. In many cases, if they do not win your case then you will not owe them anything.
However, there are exceptions. However the attorney charges, whether hourly, on contingency, or per case, they should be clear about payment before you hire them. They should give you a fee schedule, if applicable. They should answer any questions you have about how and when you will be charged.
If you meet with an attorney who does not give you clear, direct answers to questions about money then they are not the right attorney for you.
At Huber Thomas Law, we take the majority of our cases based on a contingency fee, and thus we recover our fees at the end of the case and only if there is a settlement or trial verdict.
You Have Already Found the Best Personal Injury Attorney in New Orleans
You deserve the best personal injury attorney in New Orleans offer after an accident. We offer approachable legal advice here at Huber Thomas Law. We want to assist you in understanding the terminology and guide you through each step of the procedure. Our team is the best in town, and many factors differentiate us from the opposition.
Trust Our Legal Methods
Huber Thomas Law's interdisciplinary team has successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements for our clients. Our distinctive strategy enables us to construct arguments that lead to just and equitable resolutions.
Despite having a particular lawyer assigned to your case, you will gain an advantage by having a whole team of attorneys on your side. Our entire team works together to achieve the final objective by bringing a variety of distinct perspectives and skillsets to the table, which assists us in advancing your case.
Our Impressive Track Record Speaks for Itself
The majority of personal injury cases are resolved out of court – 95 percent settle their differences through negotiation. Court battles are seldom the best option because they are costly and time-consuming.
Having stated that, we will stop at nothing to obtain just compensation for our clients. To ensure that we have the most leverage at the negotiating table, we prepare each case as though it will be heard by a judge or jury.
Consider the following case wins to get a quick idea of our courtroom success:
- A $3 million jury judgment for a woman injured on an airport shuttle vehicle
- A $1.6 million jury verdict for Jefferson Parish auto accident victim
Our lawyers have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients by litigating hundreds of personal injury cases. We have tried many cases to verdict, and due to our breadth of experience, we are constantly prepared to file a lawsuit to defend our clients.
Call Now to Learn More About the Potential Compensation You Could Be Owed
Your ability to receive a settlement or jury award will be based on numerous factors, including:
- How serious the injury was
- The level of negligence on the part of the at-fault party
- Your recovery time
- Your lost wages
- Medical costs
These are just some of the factors that will affect your compensation. We will talk to you about other damages you may have experienced and how you can be compensated for them.
Regardless of the specifics of your case, there is one thing you can always count on when you choose Huber Thomas Law: We create a unique strategy for every case to work toward the best possible outcome. Contact our office today to request a consultation with a personal injury attorney in New Orleans.