What Is Considered Employer Negligence Under the Jones Act?

Offshore employment is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Accidents and fatalities occur regularly in offshore employment, and many employees would be left with little recourse if it were not for the Jones Act. The Jones Act is the first line of protection for offshore employees who have been injured while on the job because maritime workers are not usually afforded workers’ compensation under their offshore employer. Due to the influence of the Jones Act, every maritime worker should understand how their employer can be considered negligent under the law.

The Two Meanings of Negligence

The term “negligence” is used to describe a person or entity that failed to act reasonably given the circumstance. Negligence can be equated to wrongdoing that stems from “no action” or “incorrect action.”

“No action” negligence is when an entity fails to take action when it should have. For example, if a sea captain is sailing a boat and realizes that the boat is about to get hit by a massive wave, he or she should tell the crew about the impending impact. However, if the captain chooses to not say anything about the wave, and a worker is injured due to the captain’s “lack of action,” then the worker can hold the captain accountable for the injury due to the captain’s negligence.

“Incorrect action” negligence is when an entity makes an action that is outside of industry best practices. For example, if a sea captain is sailing a boat and realizes that the ship is heading toward a storm, the captain’s decision to sail through the storm despite being able to avoid it would be considered negligent. If a worker were injured due to a captain’s choice to sail through a storm, he or she would be able to sue the captain for the negligent action.

Negligence Under the Jones Act

When “no action” and “incorrect action” negligence is converted into Jones Act terms, negligence is considered to be an employer’s actions that fail to reach normal precautions to prevent an employee from suffering injuries (incorrect action negligence) or an employer’s unwillingness to take normal precautions  to prevent employee injuries (no action negligence.)

Regardless of the type of negligence, a Jones Act attorney must prove negligence by arguing:

  • That the employer owed the employee a duty of care
  • That the employer failed to uphold that duty
  • That the employer’s failure directly caused the employee harm
  • That the employee’s harm is real

Negligent Employer Actions that Can Lead to Jones Act Claims

No Action 

  • Failure to maintain workplace safety
  • Failure to warn employees of danger
  • Failure to comply to OSHA standards
  • Failure to assist injured employee

Wrong Action

  • Lying to employees
  • Deciding to plot a course through known hazards unnecessarilyOrdering employees to perform dangerous actions
  • Ordering employees to perform actions that employees are untrained for

Many Offshore Employees Have a Jones Act Claim but Do Not Realize It

Between misconceptions, company hearsay, and other factors, many maritime employees do not realize that their injury deserves compensation under the Jones Act. The only way an employee can know if his or her accident can be filed under the Jones Act is if they ask professional maritime lawyers. Arnold & Itkin represents offshore employees in lawsuits against their employers. We have handled thousands of cases dealing with all kinds of injury situations under the Jones Act, and we are ready to help you.

You won’t know until you call. Find out if you could recover financial compensation under the Jones Act by dialing (888) 493-1629. We offer free consultations for all cases.

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