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Can I File a Jones Act Claim if I Live in Florida?

If you work in Florida’s maritime industry, you have probably heard about the Jones Act. This law, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, provides two ways for maritime workers to seek compensation when they get injured on the job. As maritime accident lawyer David P. Willis explains, the Jones Act applies to many types of maritime workers. If you have been injured on the job, you should speak with a lawyer to determine if you are entitled to Jones Act compensation.

Who Does the Jones Act Protect?

The Jones Act does not protect all maritime workers. Instead, it only applies to those who are classified as “seamen.” You are classified as a seaman if you work in Florida’s maritime industry and:

  • You work onboard a vessel “in navigation;”
  • You spend a “significant amount of time” working onboard the vessel (typically 30 percent or more of your work hours); and,
  • Your job duties “contribute to the work of the vessel.”

Ship crewmembers, officers, and captains will generally qualify for Jones Act protection, but these are by no means the only types of workers who can file Jones Act claims. Employees in all occupations who work on ships, boats, barges, floating cranes, floating rigs, motorized platforms, and other movable vessels and structures will typically be eligible to file claims as well.

If you do not qualify as a seaman, this does not mean that you are ineligible for compensation. It merely means that you must file your claim under a different statute, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

When Does the Jones Act Apply?

The Jones Act applies to all on-the-job accidents that occur onboard vessels in navigation. This includes vessels and floating structures that are in transit or deployed in offshore or inshore waters, as well as those that are docked or moored in the water.

Under the Jones Act, injured seamen who live in Florida can file two types of claims: (i) a “no-fault” claim for maintenance and cure, and (ii) a fault-based claim for full compensation. The Jones Act’s “no-fault” provisions apply regardless of how you got injured, while filing a fault-based claim requires proof that your employer’s negligence caused or contributed to your injuries.

When Can a Seaman File a Jones Act Claim?

Technically, you have up to three years from the date of your accident to file a Jones Act claim. However, to maximize your chances of recovery, it is important to file your claim as soon as possible. Your first step is to arrange a free consultation with a maritime accident lawyer, and you can contact our firm to schedule an appointment 24/7.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Maritime Accident Lawyer David P. Willis

If you live in Florida and were injured in a maritime accident, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with maritime accident lawyer David P. Willis in confidence, call 800-468-4878 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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