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Limits to Who can File a Maritime Injury Claim


The notion of what a maritime injury claim is seems pretty self explanatory. It is a claim made for losses due to accidents involving ships, barges, and tow boats deemed as unseaworthy. What is not so self explanatory to some is exactly who is able to file such claims.

A maintenance laborer working in Texas was surprised to discover the ambiguity of determining who can actually file maritime injury claims after his claim was denied by an appeals court. The Southeast Texas Record provided the details of this story.

Maritime Injury Claim Denied to Ship Laborer

Paul Bailey, a maintenance laborer, suffered head injuries after a prank-gone-wrong on the deck of the Mr. Gabby. Thinking he was able to file a maritime injury claim, Bailey filed a lawsuit against the marine contractor of the boat under the Jones Act, law that covers maritime injuries.

Bailey’s contractor responded to this suit by arguing that out of the sixty-two days Bailey was employed, only 13 of those days were spend aboard a ship of any kind. They argued that this disabled Bailey from being able to make a claim under the Jones Act. The courts agreed with the contractor and denied Bailey the claim.

Jones Act

To understand who is able to file a claim under the Jones Act, it is worthwhile to look at what the Jones Act is. It’s a federal statute that allows injured seaman or sailors to obtain damages from employers on the account of negligence caused by the crew, vessel, or captain of a ship.

By legally demonstrating the nature of Bailey’s employment to be primarily land based, the contractor was able to deny Bailey that right to file a claim under the Jones Act.

personal injury attorney who specializes in maritime law is crucial to have as an advocate in cases such as these. While Bailey’s accident can clearly be attributed to negligence on the part of the crew, his claim should not have fallen under the Jones Act.

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