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, LLP 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, LLP to learn if you qualify. To schedule a free consultation, call 253-383-5388 or contact our Tacoma office online.
"Client was disabled from working in prior profession after sustaining a severe closed head injury and brain trauma in an automobile accident on Interstate 5. $7,845,000."
"Pedestrian client was struck by semi-truck, and the trailer wheels rolled over client’s body causing severe injury. $1,145,000."
"Client was involved in a head-on collision when a bus crossed the center line. Client suffered a severe closed head injury preventing him from returning to his previous employment. $884,998."
"Client was involved in serious head-on collision with uninsured motorist while on-the-job, resulting in physical injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Client can no longer work as a commercial truck driver. $708,000."
"Client was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an automobile accident. Client was severely injured as the result of a defective seatbelt, while the other three occupants of the vehicle sustained only minor injuries. $650,000."
"Client was killed in automobile accident caused by defendant’s failure to yield the right-of-way. $650,000."
"Minor client was on his way to school and was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk. Defendant driver had pulled into oncoming lane to pass another vehicle and struck client, causing serious injuries. $500,000."
"Client was killed as a result of an in-cab fuel tank, which caught fire after an automobile accident. $350,000."
"Client riding a bicycle was struck by a motorist who failed to yield the right-of-way. Client sustained numerous injuries, including a closed head injury. $120,000."
"I have been a client of Dan Kyler’s since 1996. Having had numerous car accidents, I rely upon Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler to help me through them. The most obscure questions have been answered and help is given on all levels. Thanks."
"John Wilson demonstrated his professionalism by keeping us current on our case, explaining our options, giving us realistic expectations and demonstrating the highest level of ethics and integrity beyond reproach. We have the highest confidence that we were well represented."
"Dan Hannula’s hard work helped to settle my auto accident case."
"Having a motorcycle accident was bad enough, let alone dealing with insurance companies. John Wilson and his staff made everything easy to understand and hassle free."
"I am extremely satisfied with the service I experienced with this firm and I would recommend them to anyone that needs legal representation. Michael Fisher and his staff are great people."
"Vern Harkins perseverance and hard work made it possible to get the maximum settlement from the insurance company. I know he had my interest in mind as demonstrated by his actions."
"The office staff were courteous, pleasant and kept me informed as to what was going on throughout the whole ordeal."
"Molly Crowley is a very professional and knowledgeable lawyer. I felt I was very well represented!!"
"Molly Crowley was knowledgeable, kept me informed every step of the way and just did a great job!"
"We got a fair settlement and were treated with respect and dignity throughout the whole process. -Blake W."