Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC

Jones Act and Maritime Law

Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC

Jones Act and Maritime Law

Guaranteeing Your Full Rights in Illinois Under the Jones Act and Maritime Law

In 1920, the federal government adopted the Jones Act to allow seamen who had been hurt on the job to sue their employer for money to compensate them for their injuries. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can recover money from their employers for an injury if employer negligence or carelessness caused the injury in any way. The seaman’s contributory fault reduces the amount of money he can recover but does not bar his case entirely—and only an Illinois maritime injury (Jones Act) attorney would be able to pinpoint that degree of fault

The Jones Act covers workers injured on boats and ships working on inland waterways and out at sea. For example, in Illinois this includes accidents on the Mississippi, Lake Michigan, and their tributaries. Thus, it usually applies to claims made by seamen, officers, harbor pilots, and even oil workers. Regardless of whether the accident happened on the open seas or in Illinois, a Jones Act law firm is most qualified to represent the injured.

Other federal maritime laws also may apply to your injury, including unseaworthiness, maintenance, and cure. Determining the law that applies to your case may require the services of an attorney. Some injuries are covered by different laws like the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) or state workers compensation laws, depending on the type of work that you do. At the law firm of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC, our attorneys are experienced and skilled at representing clients with maritime personal injury lawsuits.

How does a personal injury attorney ensure the protection of maritime law in Illinois?

Under the Jones Act and LHWCA, an injured person must meet two elements to qualify as a seaman:

  • The worker’s duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission.
  • The worker must have a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in both its duration and its nature.

Even with this test, the question of who qualifies as a seaman is far from settled. Therefore, it is very important to consult with a maritime personal injury attorney in Illinois experienced in handling maritime cases. The lawyers of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC have more than 25 years of combined experience litigating maritime cases.

Compensation for injured seamen under other maritime and admiralty laws

In addition to a claim for negligence or carelessness under the Jones Act, injured seamen often have a case against the employer for a defective condition in the vessel or in its equipment. This is called an unseaworthiness case.

The law says that the employer guarantees that all vessels (including towboats and river barges) and all equipment are reasonably fit for expected use. Defective equipment that has caused injuries or deaths on ships include:

  • Ratchets
  • Winches
  • Chain straps
  • Toothpicks
  • Stairs
  • Handrails
  • Walkways
  • Cheater pipes
  • Rigging
  • Stationary wire
  • Face wire
  • 35-foot wires

An unseaworthiness case can also be based on defective tools or having too few, or inexperienced, people on the job or available to do the work. You may also have a claim for maintenance and cure if you are injured or become ill while working on a vessel.

Avoid legal traps for the unwary

The law allows ship owners and maritime employers to file special federal proceedings called Limitation and Exoneration, which ask a federal judge to decide that they do not owe you a dime for your injury. If you receive a formal notice from a court with the name of your boat and your name on it, you need to contact an experienced maritime lawyer IMMEDIATELY. This is a very complex legal area that requires advice from a competent admiralty attorney. Time is of the essence when responding to these notices.

Jones Act, maritime, and admiralty attorneys in Madison County, Illinois

To learn more about your right to receive compensation for your injury on a boat, maritime vessel, or any navigable body of water, call us toll free at (800) 917-1529 or contact Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC online to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.

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