The Jones Act
Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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The injured seaman must file the claim under the Jones Act within three years from the date of injury in most cases, especially in a case of unseaworthiness against the owner of a vessel. There may be exceptions to this rule - a case against a vessel that is either owned operated or contracted by the federal government of the United States. In such cases, the time limit can be less than three years.
The Jones Act applies to anyone who has a connection that is both substantial in nature and duration to a specific vessel, or to a fleet of vessels, and whose duties contribute to the function or mission of that vessel or fleet. The Jones Act covers injuries that occurred at sea as well as injuries which occurred while in transport to a vessel or while a vessel was docked.
Under the Jones Act, an injured worker generally has the right to choose his own doctor. The injured worker however forfeits his right to reimbursement for the medical care received if the employer refers the worker to a free public health service and the worker refuses and sees his own doctor, unless the worker can prove the public services are inadequate. If the employer refers the worker to a private doctor, the employer must prove that the worker's doctor provided unnecessary treatment or charged unreasonable fees.
Under the Jones Act, in addition to a claim against the seaman's employer, a third-party lawsuit may be available against a company other than the employer when an injury is caused by the act or failure to act of a party other than the employer. The injured worker may file a lawsuit against that party under the General Maritime Law. The third party claim or lawsuit can be for ordinary negligence, a product liability for a defective product, machinery or part that failed causing the injury.