What Jones Act Seamen Need to Know About Holding Employers Responsible for Slips, Trips, and Falls

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Working onboard a ship that is at sea is a dangerous business. Although slipping and falling may not seem like a terrible danger, seamen can be seriously injured by a fall, potentially suffering from:

  • Head and brain injuries
  • Neck and spine injuries
  • “Twisting” and joint injuries
  • Broken bones, especially in the limbs or face

It’s actually surprisingly common for a fall on deck or a quick slip while climbing stairs to end in severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment. While some seamen believe that they’re stuck with the bills after they get hurt, the truth is that—in a lot of cases—the employer of Jones Act workers can be held liable for failing to address safety issues that lead to falls.

Employers Have a Responsibility to Prevent Falls and Maintain a Safe Work Environment—Even at Sea

View of the Deck of the Ship
If you fell and were hurt because your employer failed to address a dangerous condition, you should know that you may be entitled to more than just “maintenance and cure” payments under the Jones Act. Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe at sea, and they should be held financially responsible when they are negligent or careless with workers’ health and wellbeing. You may be able to claim compensation under the Jones Act when you got hurt because an employer:

  • Failed to address wet decks, slippery walkways, and spills
  • Failed to maintain the deck surface, stairwells, and walkway flooring
  • Provided unsafe work or safety equipment
  • Did not replace faulty lighting in stairwells and walkways
  • Allowed dangerous clutter to accumulate
  • Did not address or notify workers of a reported fall risk
  • Otherwise allowed vessel conditions to the degrade to the point that a fall happened

While many employees who work on vessels around the world know that they can pursue Jones Act benefits for their medical care after an injury, many are unaware that they can also hold their employers responsible for creating or ignoring unsafe conditions that cause accidents. For many workers, unsafe or slippery deck conditions become part of their usual workday, and some don’t question why conditions were allowed to get so bad—until they end up getting hurt.

Holding Employers Responsible for Slips, Falls, and Unsafe Deck Conditions

If you are a seaman who has been hurt because an employer disregarded safety, you may be able to hold your employer responsible for the cost of your injuries, as well as other damages. For more information about your rights and possible recovery, please contact an experienced attorney with VB Attorneys today at 877-724-7800. You may also find it helpful to download a free copy of our book, The Insider’s Guide to Winning Your Jones Act Case.


Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.
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