Working on the sea can be just as rewarding as it is dangerous. Working seaman should protect themselves from workplace injury by becoming familiar with the Jones Act.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act provides a seaman with the ability to file a claim for any injuries that occur while at sea. Injuries can be attributed to the negligence of a captain or crew member, or they can be due to the unseaworthiness of a vessel. The important thing to remember here is that there has to be a reasonable danger due to negligence or unseaworthiness.


Eligibility Requirements

Under federal maritime law, anyone who spends more than 30 percent of their total time at sea while employed is classified as a seaman. The federal maritime law requires the injured party to file a grievance within 7 days of being injured. This means that if the respective seaman fails to file a proper complaint with his/her employer after being injured at sea, then he/she will have no course of recompense and be faced with the hospital visits and medical bills in solitude.

After properly reporting an injury a seaman is allotted 3 years’ time to file a formal suit with a state or federal court in front of a jury according to the statute of limitations provided by the Merchant Maritime Act of 1920. As stated under the provision found at 46 USC 30104:

  • “Any sailor who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right to trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common-law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply…”

Which provides sailors with the same rights as federal railway workers.


Legal Representation

If you are a sailor and have been injured while at sea it is important that you familiarize yourself with this law and its statutes. You may be entitled to recovery from your employer based upon your injuries suffered and bills incurred. Speak with your attorney and be positive you are gaining the correct counsel in matters such as these, nothing is more valuable than your health.