The Jones Act provides protection to maritime workers that are injured on the job so it is important for maritime workers to understand their rights. Below are two recent legal case examples:
Jury Rules in Favor of Ship Repairman who Suffered Serious Neck Injuries
Gilberto Villegas was working as a ship repairman for APM Terminals in the Port of Houston and suffered a serious neck injury. Mr. Villegas was unloading materials from his pickup truck at the Port of Houston’s Barbours Cut Terminal when his truck was rammed by a yard mule truck driven by an APM Terminals employee. The impact caused several injuries, the most severe of which led to neck surgery to alleviate pain from two herniated discs. The defendant, APM Terminals, tried to argue that the collision could not have caused such a serious injury because the yard mule truck was only going 1 or 2 miles per hour. They also stated that Villegas had complained about neck problems before the accident. They offered a settlement of $35,000 and the plaintiff rejected the offer. The Jones Act attorney representing Villegas successfully argued his claim in front of a jury. The jury awarded Villegas an award of $1.55 million, more than enough compensation to provide for his personal and medical needs for the rest of his life.
Court Rules Injured Iron Worker Qualifies under the Jones Act
Jacob Kinchen and his coworker Larry Abshire, both iron workers, were traveling to their job site. They were working on the construction of a bridge. At the end of a working day, as they were traveling back from the job site to shore, their boat collided with a survey tower. At the time of the accident, Kinchen was operating the boat. He was not a licensed captain. Both men claimed that they were seamen under the Jones Act, and were therefore entitled to file a claim under the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, to qualify as a seaman, the worker should meet 3 criteria: the seaman should be assigned to a vessel or a fleet of vessels, the vessel should be in navigation, and the seaman should have a significant relationship with the vessel.
The two workers argued that they had a substantial relationship with the vessel because they contributed to the work of the vessel, and spent most of their time on the vessel. However, their employer, Boh Bros, claimed that the two were not Jones Act seamen, but longshoremen. Likewise, the two workers had been assigned to work on a bridge and not a specific vessel. Their duties resembled those of longshoremen and stevedores, and not those of seamen under the Jones Act. A court ruled that the iron worker qualifies as a seaman under the Jones Act. However, Abshire’s motion for partial summary judgment as to seaman status was denied.
If you have been injured in a maritime accident, contact a maritime lawyer who understands this area of the law. An experienced Jones Act attorney will help you receive fair compensation.