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Proving negligence in a Jones Act case - VB Attorneys

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


What do you have to prove in a Jones Act negligence case?

Unlike workers protected by workers’ compensation laws on land, seamen really are saddled with proving that an employer should pay for their injuries. Although the Jones Act is meant to protect seamen in many lines of work, complicated laws can make it hard for them to take advantage of those protections and prove that they should be compensated.

No matter how clear the facts of your Jones Act claim may seem, employers will take steps to reduce their legal responsibility and argue against evidence that they broke the law. You need to be prepared, and you may need an experienced lawyer’s help. A lot of work must go into proving all the facts of the situation and your injury, even when the facts of your case seem like they should be obvious.

Proving who is legally responsible for your injury at sea

Determining negligence for an injury under the Jones Act often takes a thorough investigation into a complicated web of laws, regulations, and policies, which might include:

  • Safety provisions under the Jones Act
  • Specific industry regulations
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards
  • Coast Guard regulations

In fact, there are so many laws and regulations that a team of lawyers and experts may be needed to identify what highly specific rules apply in the case and what the employer’s responsibility truly is. In some cases, the liability for an injury may even fall on someone other than the employer. Even if you believe you know who was responsible for your injury, it’s worth talking with a lawyer about how the law affects negligence in your case and what might be needed to prove your claim.

Proving your Jones Act case with evidence

Collecting evidence and documentation is a huge part of any Jones Act claim, and it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the stacks of forms, letters, medical reports, photographs, and other documents that become a part of everyday life for workers injured at sea. You may believe that it’s obvious that your employer or a vessel owner was responsible for your injury, but you still need extensive documentation and solid evidence to prove your claims through a Jones Act lawsuit. If you can’t legally prove—with evidence—that your employer’s negligence contributed to your injury, then you won’t be able to win your case.

The problem is that evidence can disappear quickly after someone is hurt at sea. Employers may even attempt to cover up evidence of negligence, and witnesses may be unwilling to help you after you’ve been hurt. However, before you give up hope, realize that obtaining the proof you need to win your case may not be easy for you, but it may be possible for a lawyer who is skilled in Jones Act cases. While circumstances can make it very difficult to get the evidence you need in your case, an experienced lawyer has the resources and knowledge needed to find the information and evidence that supports your claim and help you win the compensation you truly deserve.

Three points that must be proved to win your Jones Act lawsuit

While it might seem like a lot to keep track of, keep in mind that all this collected information will eventually serve as evidence that helps prove your claim. All these documents, pieces of evidence, and legal arguments are steps toward helping you and your lawyer prove three necessary points in your Jones Act case:

  • Your injury is covered under the Jones Act. To qualify for Jones Act benefits, you must meet certain requirements. While many workers on vessels, offshore rigs, and other offshore work environments do meet those requirements, there are some workers who may be excluded or covered under other laws or regulations. To even get started with your claim, your lawyer must be able to prove that you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act and that you were injured.
  • Your employer or the vessel owner contributed to your injury. If you hope to win a Jones Act lawsuit, you must be able to show that the responsible parties’ fault or negligence contributed to what happened to you. However, employers have experienced legal teams ready to fight these kinds of claims, and you will need extensive evidence to prove fault and win your case.
  • You deserve financial compensation for your losses. You and your lawyer will have to show what you’ve lost since you’ve been injured, whether it is the financial, physical, or emotional strains of your injury. To do this, you and your lawyer may need to collect pay stubs, tax returns, occupational assessments, statements from economic experts, medical records, and more.

Get experienced help with your Jones Act case

Our maritime injury lawyers have the experience and track record you need to win your Jones Act case. If  you are having trouble getting the compensation you need after an injury, don’t wait any longer to get help. Call us directly at 877-724-7800 to speak with a Jones Act lawyer. It is free and confidential. We will answer all of your questions, walk you through our case strategy, and help you make an informed decision about your future.

Topics: Jones Act