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Maritime Accidents

Jones Act and Maritime Related Injuries

Throughout the Gulf of Mexico, the coastal regions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and on inland waters, oil and gas industry employees, seamen, fishermen, drillers, and dockworkers are exposed to dangerous conditions on the high seas. Although the many hazards of working at sea are well known, no one can truly be prepared for a fatal accident to happen to a family member or friend.


Maritime accidents occur during activities on or relating to the sea. Both work-related accidents and recreational accidents can occur. Maritime accidents involve watercraft of all shapes and types, from small boats to massive cruise ships. These types of incidents also account for any accident that occurs on a dock, while participating in water sports, or on offshore drilling rigs.

Maritime incidents which can lead to injury, property damage, and death include:


A maritime claim can arise from any situation where the equipment aboard a given vessel has become unseaworthy, or unfit for use at sea, due to owner negligence. Common maritime dispute causes include:

  • Lack of appropriate equipment
  • Inability to provide medical treatment after an accident
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Failure to provide safety gear or appropriate training
  • Ignoring safety statues and standards
  • Inadequate training or safety measures

If you have been injured through negligence or unseaworthiness, you have rights to compensation for pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, lost earning capacity, disability, disfigurement, medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life.


Many maritime injury claims are governed by the Jones Act or General Maritime Law also known as Admiralty Law. Maritime law is a distinct body of law which governs maritime questions and offenses. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. It also covers many commercial activities, even land based, if they are maritime in character.


Seamen and maritime workers have special rights under federal law, including the ability to sue an employer or the ship’s owner for negligence under the Jones Act. This operative provision is found at 46 U.S.C § 688 (a) and provides that: “Any sailor who shall suffer personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law, with the right to trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common-law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply…”

With regard to the Jones Act, keep these important notes in mind:

  • Any worker who spends less than 30% of his time in the service of a vessel on navigable waters is presumed not to be a seaman under the Jones Act.
  • An action under the Act may be brought either in a U.S. federal court or in a state court.
  • The seaman/Plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial, a right which is not afforded in maritime law absent a statute authorizing it.


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