The Jones Act is a very effective mechanism for recovering monetary damages. The injured worker can bring several claims against their employer including their claim for maintenance and cure, claim for unseaworthiness, as well as the claim for damages under the Jones Act to reimburse and to compensate the injured worker.
Although the Jones Act is incredibly effective, it can sometimes be quite complex to navigate by someone with little knowledge in the field of law. To best understand the dynamics of the Charleston Jones Act, it is imperative to consult with an experienced Charleston Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible.
Through the Jones Act, an individual can recover damages for past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and other general damages including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
There is no cap on damages for the injured worker as opposed to if they were under the longshore and harbor state laws where there are maximum compensation rates and a maximum number of weeks that can be compensated for insurance body parts.
The Jones Act is a very effective mechanism for recovering damages for an injured worker or seaman who has been injured on the job. A knowledgeable attorney can help an individual understand the specific dynamics associated with the Charleston Jones Act.
Statute of Limitations
There is a three year statute of limitations in most cases. If the injured worker does not bring their claims within three years of the accident, then they will be barred from bringing their claim at all. That being said, if the injured worker is on a government-owned vessel, then the statute of limitation is only two years because of the Tort Claims Act that limits the statute of limitations to two years.
According to best practices for the injured worker, one should assume there is only a two year statute of limitation in any case. That way, they are extra cautious, which would help them avoid missing any statute of limitations that may be in place in any case. Importantly, the injured worker should not just show up in a lawyer’s office trying to file a claim a week or two before the statute would run, because it takes a significant amount of time to gather the evidence and other material that are necessary to properly evaluate one of these claims.
It is very important that the injured worker act on their case early so that the proper evidence can be developed on their behalf, and so that the evidence does not disappear or get altered and potentially cause the problem in their case when they do bring it at a later date. Because of these complex dynamics associated with the Charleston Jones Act, it is crucial that an individual consult with an attorney.
Hearing the Case
A person can file a Jones Act case in either federal court or state court. There is something that is known as the “saving the suitor’s cause” which says that the claim can be filed in state court if their courts recognized federal claims. This would stay under the Jones Act.
What is important here is that there are some tactical and strategical reasons as to why the injured worker’s lawyer may want to file in the state court or federal court, or to be in front of the judge or to be in front of the jury.
The reasons for that are so numerous, but they can be heard in both state and federal court, or they can be heard in front of the judge and/or a jury. Seeking experienced maritime or legal representation is necessary for understanding the individual case.
Judge vs. Jury Trials
Charleston Jones Act cases can be seen by a judge or jury trial. Sometimes, with the tough back pattern on liability or on damages, the client may want to move to a half bench trial with the judge. This is because they understand the concept of law and the type of injury that is occurring in these cases. Sometimes, the injured worker may want to put in it in front of the judge and hope to get better damages awarded to them that a jury may give.
If it is a jury trial, sometimes, the facts are such that the judge may not be the best person to hear it or that the injured worker’s attorney and the injured worker believe that a jury will be sympathetic in damages and they may award more damages.
These are very fact-specific depending on the case, but they can be tried in front of the judge and the jury and can be tried both in federal and state court. The reason why the injured worker should seek experienced maritime legal advice from the attorney is to help them decide which is best based on the specific dynamics of their Charleston Jones Act case.
A Person’s Rights
A person’s rights under the Jones Act include bringing the case against their employer and/or the vessel in which they are injured, and recovering any damages caused by the accident. These damages include maintenance and cure, if available, and looking for potential unseaworthiness at the vessel.
All of those should be explored by injured workers that are deemed to be seaman, and those permanently assigned to a vessel when they were injured in their accident case.
Jones Act Vessel
A Jones Act vessel is a term that has a large body of statutory case law. Because of this, an individual should seek the advice of an experienced maritime lawyer to help them identify whether the vessel they are on would be deemed a Jones Act vessel or not.
That being said, there are some examples of a Jones Act vessel which would include things like fishing boats, tug boats, dredges, towboats, barges, supply boats, tanker boats, crew boats, oil rigs, offshore platform, oil rigs, and things of that nature.
The injured worker should seek advice from an experienced maritime lawyer early on to determine whether or not they fall under the Jones Act, general maritime law, or some other tort law to help them recover for their damages.