How Do You File a Jones Act Claim?

Jones Act Jan 17, 2023

If you work on a barge, tugboat, cargo ship, containership or any other vessel and you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that specifically protects offshore workers who qualify as “seamen,” and injured seamen are entitled to no-fault benefits in many cases.

But, to collect the compensation you deserve under the Jones Act, you need to know how to file a claim. The process is not easy, and mistakes can prevent you from obtaining benefits. Here is an overview of what you need to know to maximize your chances of a full financial recovery:

10 Steps Involved in Filing a Jones Act Claim

1. Report Your Injury to Your Employer

As soon as you get injured on the job, you should report your injury to your employer. You do not want to wait any longer than necessary to report your injury, as this could lead to problems with your claim. If you are concerned about losing your job, federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who assert their legal rights under the Jones Act.

2. See a Doctor Promptly (on the Ship, if Possible)

Along with reporting your injury, the other thing you should do right away is see a doctor. If your ship has a doctor, you should see the onboard doctor promptly. While you will want to go somewhere else for the remainder of your treatment (as discussed below), seeking treatment right away is also important for protecting your claim under the Jones Act.

3. Take Photos and Videos of Where You Got Injured (if Possible)

If you are still onboard the ship, you should try to take photos and videos of where you got injured—provided that it is safe to do so. While you don’t need proof of fault to obtain maintenance and cure benefits, if you can prove fault, you can recover additional compensation. If you are able to take photos and videos, your lawyer will review these to determine what claims you can file.

4. See Your Own Doctor When You Get Back to Land

Once you get back to land, you should see your own doctor for the remainder of your treatment. Seamen have the right to see their own doctor under the Jones Act, and it is important that you not go to a doctor recommended by your employer or its insurance company. You need to see a doctor who has your best interests in mind and who will focus on providing the best possible treatment for your injury.

5. Take Notes About the Accident

As soon as you’re feeling up to it, you should take detailed notes about the accident. What happened? What were you doing when you got injured? Did any of your coworkers witness the accident? How were the weather and sea conditions? Do you suspect that the captain, a coworker or anyone else onboard made a mistake? Was there an issue with the ship that caused your injury? These are all important details that your lawyer will need to know.

6. Follow Up to Make Sure Your Report Gets Processed

When you have a Jones Act claim, you should not assume that your employer will handle your claim correctly. Instead, you need to be proactive about protecting your legal rights. This means that you should follow up to make sure your accident report gets processed, and it means that you may need to be prepared to fight for the financial compensation you deserve.

7. Keep All Documents You Receive

If you receive any documents from your employer related to the accident or your Jones Act claim, be sure to keep these in a safe place. Be sure to keep all of your medical records, too. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be for your lawyer to handle your claim for you. It is a good idea to put all of your papers in a file folder and save any emails you receive in a new folder on your phone.

8. Keep Going to Your Doctor’s Appointments (and Following Your Doctor’s Advice)

One of the most common mistakes injured seamen make is ignoring their doctor’s advice. If you skip your doctor’s appointments, if you don’t get your prescriptions filled, or if you return to work before you are ready, these could all lead to a denial of benefits under the Jones Act.

9. Don’t Let Your Employer Stand in the Way of Your Legal Rights

From ignoring your accident report to trying to get you to see a company doctor, your employer may deploy a variety of tactics to try to prevent you from collecting the full compensation you deserve for your on-the-job injury. Do not let your employer stand in the way of your legal rights. Take control of your situation, don’t take no for an answer, and rely on the advice of an experienced lawyer who has your best interests in mind.

10. Seek Help from an Experienced Lawyer

With all of the challenges involved, it is best to hire an experienced lawyer to help with your Jones Act claim. You can hire a lawyer at no out-of-pocket cost, and your lawyer can help make sure you are seeking the maximum compensation available. Depending on how you got injured, this may include not only maintenance and cure benefits but also additional compensation for an unseaworthy condition on the vessel or Jones Act negligence.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation About Your Jones Act Claim

Do you have a Jones Act claim? If so, we can help you seek maximum compensation for your injury-related losses. But, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in person or over the phone, call 800-468-4878 or tell us how we can reach you online now. You pay nothing unless we help you recover.

Willis Law Firm, Offshore & Maritime Lawyer
Nationwide Help - Licensed in Texas and New York
Principal Office
5005 Riverway Drive
Suite #160

Houston, Texas 77056

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Willis Law Firm Portway Plaza
1717 Turning Basin Dr.
Suite #232

Houston, Texas 77029

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