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Houston Jones Act Lawyer

Even with the best safety gear and protocols, sailing and maritime jobs are dangerous. If you’ve been hurt working on a U.S. vessel, you may be eligible to receive compensation under the Jones Act. This worker protection is intended to help seamen access quality medical care and receive compensation for other damages. 

If you’re unsure where to turn after getting hurt on the job, consult a Houston Jones Act lawyer from Havens & Associates to learn about your legal rights. Call (713) 955-2215 for a free consultation.

houston jones act lawyer

What is the Jones Act and who does it protect?

The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is an extension of the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), offering protections for injured seamen and permitting them to bring a civil action against a negligent employer if injured while working.

Jones Act civil suits are a form of personal injury lawsuit, which means that injured seamen or surviving family members can seek non-economic compensation in addition to tangible losses, like medical bills and unearned wages. You can also demand compensation for the pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and diminished quality of life you experience because of your injuries.

Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can demand compensation for more losses than they would secure under traditional workers’ compensation, which is limited to covering medical costs, scheduled disability benefits, and lost wages.

The Jones Act protects seamen working aboard an operational vessel in navigation. The vessel must be in navigable waters, including the ocean and rivers and lakes bordered by at least two states. The Jones Act does not cover maritime workers injured while on a body of water wholly bordered by one state – in that case, they will be covered by the state’s workplace injury laws.

Workers protected under the Jones Act

The Jones Act specifically names seamen as being protected under that law. Per the Act, the vessel the seaman is working on must be in operation, i.e., moving or capable of moving. The Jones Act does not cover ships in dry dock or undergoing seaworthiness testing.

However, there are other federal laws to protect workers on these non-operational vessels, longshoremen and dock workers, and workers on offshore oil and gas rigs.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) may cover people working in other maritime jobs. This covers dock workers, stevedores, and those performing repairs on vessels.

Vessels protected under the Jones Act

The Jones Act explicitly states that only vessels “in navigation” are covered. This can be a little loose interpretation, but to be considered a vessel imagination, the ship or boat must be:


The vessel must be in the water, floating. It may be in a dock, as long as it’s floating in water. Vessels on land undergoing repairs or those in drydock do not meet the “afloat” requirement.

In operation

The vessel must be working and operable. If it’s docked, it must be capable of being operated or carrying out maritime duties.

Capable of moving

If it’s docked, the ship must be capable of leaving the dock, afloat on water, and operable by the crew.

On navigable waters

This may include the ocean or lakes and rivers linked to other bodies of navigable waters. For example, a vessel leaving Lake Pontchartrain, heading to the Mississippi River and on toward the Gulf of Mexico would be considered on navigable waters.

houston jones act attorney

What types of injuries are covered by the Jones Act?

Any injury a seaman incurs while working aboard an operational vessel should be covered under The Jones Act. This includes medical care for common maritime/admiralty worker injuries like:

This isn’t an exhaustive list of injuries. It also covers any occupational disease or illness you develop due to your working conditions, such as toxic exposure, shipboard infections like MRSA or pneumonia, or internal organ damage due to overexertion and general poor working conditions.

Plus, if a seaman suffers accidental drowning, their surviving family members may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent employer.

What compensation can I recover in a Jones Act claim?

You are entitled to claim compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.

Economic damages, per the Jones Act, include:

You can also claim compensation for non-economic damages like:

If a seaman passes away from their maritime accident injuries, a Houston, Texas Jones Act attorney can help the family seek compensation for:

You cannot seek punitive damages (financial punishment of an egregiously negligent employer) under the Jones Act.

How long do I have to file a claim under the Jones Act?

You have three years from the maritime/admiralty injury or diagnosis of an occupational illness or disease to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act. If you fail to file before the statute of limitations expires, you essentially forfeit your right to sue.

How much does it cost to hire a Houston Jones Act lawyer?

Each Jones Act attorney in Houston, TX, sets their own rates, but many, like those at Havens & Associates, work on a contingency basis. This means the attorney gets paid only if they win your case and secure a settlement. The law firm takes care of the legal costs up front and is paid a percentage of your final award.

We are happy to discuss the payment structure for your claim in your initial free consultation.

How can a Jones Act attorney help me?

The purpose of the Jones Act is to give injured seamen recourse for compensation after a workplace injury. However, this recourse is in the form of a personal injury lawsuit, a civil matter that seeks redress for damages. Although you could file a claim yourself, the laws are complex.

A Houston Jones Act injury lawyer can draft the claim according to regulations and gather evidence demonstrating your employer was negligent and is therefore responsible for the accident and your injury.

Our legal team can help you:

Your lawyer is your legal advocate and protector during the Jones Act claims process. They protect your rights and prevent you from being steamrolled by a defensive employer and their insurance company.

How is the Jones Act different from other maritime/admiralty laws?

The Jones Act is more comprehensive than many other maritime laws. Not only does it offer protections for seamen injured because of a negligent employer, but it also establishes the Merchant Marine, trained seamen and sailors that may be used defensively in times of war.

It also protects certain U.S. shipping interests. Domestic shipping companies are protected because foreign vessels are not permitted cabotage (transferring goods along U.S. navigable water routes). The Gulf oil and gas industry is one of the most affected industries by the Jones Act, as any crude sourced from offshore rigs must be shipped to northern refineries in U.S. vessels with U.S. crew.

Unlike other admiralty laws, the Jones Act addresses the needs of injured seamen and accidents that occur when a vessel operates in navigable waters. Most U.S. maritime laws don’t look at the individuals working on the vessels but rather address larger issues like water pollution and oil spills, commercial and contractual claims, and vessel financing such as maritime liens.

When it comes to offering protections for the injured, it provides an avenue for workers to be compensated for the effect injuries have on their lives, like scarring and disfigurement, the emotional trauma of the experience, and the effect a new disability has on their ability to work or enjoy normal activities.

Our Houston Jones Act lawyers are ready to help

Have you been injured while working on a ship, boat, or barge on U.S. navigable waters?  Do you need help understanding your rights under the Jones Act? Our Houston, Texas Jones Act attorneys are experienced maritime injury lawyers, and we work with injured seamen just like you.

Havens & Associates works hard to hold negligent maritime employers accountable for permitting unsafe conditions to persist and can file a suit on your behalf for employer negligence. Contact our firm today at (713) 955-2215 for a free case review.

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