Experienced Houston Jones Act Lawyer
The Houston Jones Act lawyers at Mithoff Law understand the dangers faced by seamen and crew members who work offshore and the complex laws they must navigate in order to obtain compensation for their on-the-job injuries.
Unlike land-based workers, maritime workers are unable to claim traditional workers’ compensation. Instead, maritime workers rely on laws like the Jones Act to protect them financially in the event of injury. In some cases, determining Jones Act qualification is simple, but this isn’t always the case.
“Mithoff has been one of Houston’s most respected attorneys for decades, handling such high-profile cases as the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Enron-related litigation on behalf of J.P, Morgan Chase and highly publicized bus and plant explosions.”
– Houston Chronicle, June 26, 2019
What is the Jones Act?
Originally known as the Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act is a federal law protecting maritime workers injured at sea, allowing seamen injured on the job to sue their employers for benefits under certain circumstances.
In order to file a claim under the Jones Act, your case must meet three key criteria:
- You must be classified as a seaman
- The injury/accident must have occurred on a “vessel in navigation” or a vessel capable of navigation
- Your injury was caused or contributed to by the employer, owner, or crew member negligence
Who are considered seamen for purposes of the Jones Act?
In addition to the key criteria, a Houston Jones Act lawyer can help navigate the additional claim requirements. In order to file a Jones Act claim, maritime workers must be considered proper seamen. In general terms, a person who spends at least 30% of their work time aboard a vessel in navigation may be considered a seaman for purposes of the Jones Act.
Typically, a worker must directly contribute to the work of the vessel in order to be considered a Jones Act seaman. The rules governing Jones Act seaman status are complex, and the Jones Act attorneys at Mithoff Law can assist you in evaluating your potential claims. (Further reading: Personal Injury Compensation)
What is a vessel in navigation?
Jones Act cases can often turn on whether a person worked aboard a “vessel in navigation.” Criteria utilized by courts to determine whether a vessel is considered “in navigation” at the time of your injury include:
- Whether the vessel was afloat
- Whether the vessel was in operation
- Whether the vessel was capable of moving
- Whether the vessel was in navigable waters
The term “in navigation” does not necessarily require that the vessel had been moving at the time of your injury.
For example, a seaman injured aboard a tanker that is at anchor on open water but not currently moving may be covered by the Jones Act. A worker aboard a docked and decommissioned vessel in drydock, however, may not meet the criteria.
Determining negligence under the Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, a seaman’s employer is typically required to both provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work and to maintain safe conditions through basic upkeep and repair. Failures to do so may be considered negligence and may subject the employer up to liability under the Jones Act.
Examples of negligence by a Jones Act employer may include:
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Unclean worksites
- Poor training
- Lack of proper equipment or resources
- Injuries caused by coworkers
Speak to a Houston Jones Act attorney at Mithoff Law today
Don’t let the technicalities of the Jones Act and other maritime laws keep you from seeking the benefits you need to recover from your injury. If you think you may have a Jones Act claim, you need an experienced Jones Act attorney who is well-versed in maritime law to help you explore your options.
Our Houston Jones Act lawyers are trial-tested and prepared to help you work through your Jones Act claim. Call us today at 713-654-1122 and get your case off to the right start.