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Understanding the basics of Jones Act claims in Louisiana

If you were injured in the course of working aboard a ship near the Louisiana coastline, you may be able to recover under the Jones Act. This legislation, codified in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, provides certain protections and avenues of redress for maritime employees.

Injuries involving maritime vessels can form the basis of legally complex cases. An attorney with experience and knowledge of maritime law can understand the various legal frameworks that may apply, including the Jones Act, personal injury law, workers' compensation and any other relevant laws.

How long do I have to file?

The Jones Act sets forth a three-year statute of limitations, giving you this period to file a lawsuit from the time of your injury. Before filing the claim, your attorney may have to acquire more information about the accident and your injuries as well as their likely prognosis. For this reason, it is important not to delay contacting a lawyer promptly after the accident.

Where should I file?

This law also allows plaintiffs to sue in either federal or Louisiana courts and entitles them to a jury trial. Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney can explain how a choice of federal or state court may affect its course.

Who is covered by the Jones Act?

To be covered by the provisions of the Jones Act, you must be a seaman. That is, you must spend at least 30 percent of your work hours aboard a ship in navigation. Generally, courts tend to interpret the terms in this rule fairly generously, so do not assume you have no claim under the Act without speaking with your lawyer. For example, "ship" does not necessarily mean the type of vessel most people would picture; this term may include various types of floating structures. Further, even platform workers or onshore oil industry workers may be included in some cases.

Can I sue for negligence?

Under the Act, you may have a claim against the owner of a vessel based on allegations of negligence. The protections of the Act also apply when the injury occurs because the vessel was not seaworthy.

What types of compensation may be available?

Compensation under the Act may include damages for pain and suffering and lost wages, as well as maintenance and cure.


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