Tacoma Attorneys Assist Ferry Workers and Seamen in Jones Act Claims
Pursuing civil damages from ship owners when negligence causes injury
Washington State is home to the largest ferry system in the country, with 22 vessels carrying more than 22 million passengers annually to 20 different ports in the United States and Canada. The system’s 1,800 employees include maritime workers — captains, masters, chief mates, able-bodied seamen, ordinary seamen, engineers and oilers — who qualify for federal protection under the Jones Act. Since 1959, maritime accident attorneys at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. have represented injured ferry workers and merchant marines in claims of negligence or unseaworthiness against their employers. We demonstrate a deep commitment to our clients’ success by advancing all costs of litigation as we pursue full compensation.
What are a Washington maritime worker’s rights under the Jones Act?
Washington’s workers’ compensation laws bar most employees from pursuing civil damages from their employers. So, when employees suffer work-related injuries, they receive compensation for their medical bills, but only recover a percentage of their lost income and nothing for their pain and suffering. The Jones Act is a federal law passed in 1920 that gives seamen additional protections, including the right to file a civil lawsuit, allowing them to recover all lost income and compensation for pain and suffering.
The law allows a seaman to sue an employer for injuries due to negligence or the unseaworthiness of a vessel, a right that does not exist in international maritime law. The right to a trial by jury also does not exist under maritime law.
What is unseaworthiness under the Jones Act?
Under the general maritime law, a ship owner or operator has an unqualified, non-delegable duty to all who qualify as seamen under the Jones Act to provide a vessel that is reasonably fit for its intended purpose. The owner or operator is strictly liable to a Jones Act seaman for injuries caused by an unseaworthy condition. An unseaworthy condition may arise from a defect or fault of the vessel, its equipment or its crew.
Who qualifies as a seaman under the Jones Act?
To qualify for Jones Act protections an employee must spend at least 30 percent of the time in service of a vessel in navigable waters. Though the Jones Act is federal law, the injured seaman can bring the case to state or federal court.
Contact our maritime injury attorneys for Jones Act litigation in Washington
If you or a loved one has suffered a maritime accident, the Jones Act may afford you rights to compensation in addition to workers’ compensation. Speak to a seasoned maritime lawyer at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. to learn if you qualify. To schedule a free consultation, call 253.250.4516 or contact our Tacoma office online.