How Does the Jones Act Affect Lawsuits Involving Cruise Ships?

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The Jones Act of 1920 is a broad federal law that affects the transportation of goods throughout the United States. However, this law also plays a role in affecting the rights of potential plaintiffs that may be injured on a cruise ship. Employees of a cruise ship should understand how the Jones Act affects their rights in a lawsuit. If you or a family member was injured in a cruise ship accident, you should consult with an experienced Jones Act negligence attorney as soon as possible.

At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., our cruise ship accident lawyers are committed to providing you with the legal representation you need to handle a complex maritime accident injury case. We understand that it can be difficult to handle a complex personal injury claim while in recovery from your accident, and we are here to alleviate your concerns. Our firm is here to discuss how the Jones Act affects lawsuits involving cruise ships.

What is the Jones Act?

Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is a federal law that deals with the regulation of maritime commerce in the United States. Specifically, the Jones Act provides that items that are shipped between U.S. ports must be shipped on cargo ships that are built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

However, the Jones Act also has a provision where seamen employed on a vessel can sue for their employers for Jones Act negligence. Accurately, a seaman that is injured on the vessel can sue the employer for negligence caused by the following parties:

  • Owner of the vessel
  • A company that owns the vessel
  • Shipmasters
  • Crew members that behave negligently

Maritime workers are not covered under workers’ compensation laws. As a result, the Jones Act was passed to protect maritime workers similar to how the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) is used to protect railroad workers who are also not covered under workers’ compensation laws.

To learn more about filing a lawsuit under the Jones Act, you should consult with an experienced Jones act negligence lawyer today.

Qualifying for a Cruise Ship Lawsuit Under the Jones Act

It is essential for a cruise ship worker to understand when they are able to file a lawsuit against their employer under the Jones Act. Seamen that are injured on a cruise ship can only file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer under the following circumstances:

  • The seaman is employed by the vessel owner or shipping company, and 30% of their employment duties involve working on the vessel
  • The job performed by the seaman must add to the operation of the vessel in some way (cook, fishermen, crew member, etc.)
  • The vessel the seaman works on must meet certain qualifications

It is also important to note that maritime law cases have a lower burden of proof for personal injury lawsuits. Specifically, an employee of a cruise ship only has to show that their employer was liable for their accident in some way. The employee’s contributory negligence is only considered when awarding damages.

There are a number of damages that a plaintiff can be awarded for prevailing in a Jones Act lawsuit:

  • Loss of wages
  • Medical expenses for medication, rehabilitation, surgery, and other related costs
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of favorite activities

Statute of Limitations for a Jones Act Cruise Ship Lawsuit

A seaman that qualifies to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act should also be aware that their case is subject to the statute of limitations on cruise ship accidents. The statute of limitations places a time limit on how long a potential plaintiff has to file a lawsuit with a court of law. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the filing deadline set by the statute of limitations is subject to change.

It is important for a potential plaintiff to avoid assuming the date of their potential personal injury lawsuit. If you are wrong about the time you have to file your case, you may be left with no other options to seek compensation after a cruise ship accident.

Lawsuits under the Jones Act have a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the injury. While our firm understands that it can be difficult to pursue a personal injury lawsuit so soon after a serious injury, there are many reasons to pursue your lawsuit as soon as possible. For example, if you have extensive medical bills and will likely accrue future medical bills, you will want to claim compensation as soon as possible. There are other reasons to file your case quickly:

  • The memory of a valuable witness could become hazy or could become unavailable
  • Evidence needed to prove your case could be lost or destroyed
  • May become harder to discover evidence needed for your case

This is not an exhaustive list. Our firm is here to guide you through your Jones Act lawsuit. There are other ways that Jones Act lawsuits may vary from traditional personal injury cases, and we are here to alleviate your concerns. Despite the Jones Act, there is a new court ruling cruise ship seamen are subject to a mandatory arbitration provision.

Work with an Experienced Jones Act Negligence Attorney to Discuss Your Potential Lawsuit

If you were an employee of a cruise ship and you were injured while working, you should contact an experienced Jones Act negligence and Florida boat accident lawyer as soon as possible. The legal team at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., possesses extensive knowledge of cruise ship safety laws and experience litigating complex legal claims, and we are here to help you seek compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your potential personal injury case, you should contact Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., at (305) 204-5369. You may also contact the firm online to schedule your appointment.


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