When a seaman is injured at sea, there are a few important questions to ask. One of the first is: what caused the injury? In most cases, the injury is the result of a variety of factors. Depending on the circumstances, an injured seaman may have a right to make a claim under the Jones Act, or may have a third party liability case - or sometimes both.
Making a Jones Act Claim
If your employer made even a small breach of duty that contributed to your injury, you may be eligible to make a claim under the Jones Act. Employer negligence can take many forms: failing to provide the proper safety equipment, failing to properly train employees or failing to properly maintain the vessel are a few of the most common. When you’re injured onboard a vessel, you should clearly document the cause of the injury. Take pictures, if you can. If the injury is caused even in part by an employer’s negligence, you should pursue the possibility of making a Jones Act claim.
Third Party Liability Cases
In cases where the injury was caused by a third part, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury action against that party. This is a third party liability case. Third party liability can occur in a wide variety of ways. Defective equipment that fails and causes an injury would be grounds for a third party liability case. Negligent design or manufacturing can also be the basis for a third party liability suit. Or even accidents caused by an independent contractor or the employee of an independent contractor. The circumstances are varied.
Jones Act and Third Party Liability are Independent
Making a claim under the Jones Act and third party cases are typically treated as independent actions. Depending on the circumstances, your injury may warrant both types of cases; a Jones Act claim and a third party liability case. Your right to recover is different under each type of case, and adding defendants can make a maritime injury case more complex. It’s important to work with an experienced maritime lawyer to make sure you’re filing the appropriate claims and cases, and that you’re making recovery from all the right parties.