Texas is one of the states located beside a body of water, the Gulf of Mexico. It is home to business operations that require their employees to be out at sea. Being out at sea can present complex and hazardous issues. Even though you live in Texas and your employer is based in the state, if you are eligible as a maritime worker, then the employment laws governing your employee status may be maritime laws. If you work in any maritime business, one of the most significant laws to be aware of is the Jones Act.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a federal law that protects employees who sustain any injuries while working at sea. In the context of this law, “employees” refer to anyone engaged in maritime employment while the ship or vessel is in navigation. Under the Jones Act, these are the most important considerations:
- A maritime employee has the right to a safe place to work.
- If the employer is liable for creating an unsafe working environment, the maritime employee has the right to recover damages.
- A maritime employee who sustained injuries while onboard the vessel has the right to pursue a civil suit.
- A maritime injured employee has a right to a jury trial.
If an employee can prove through a preponderance of evidence that the employer was at fault, they can recover much more damages than they would in a workers’ compensation claim. Employers governed by the Jones Act owe their employees a higher duty standard.
The sea is not the best place to be
Whether the vessel is afloat or in motion, you have the right to feel protected in your line of work. Working conditions on the open sea can be more challenging due to inadequate equipment, older vessels, extreme weather and erratic work schedules. You should know your rights as a maritime employee to ensure the voyage is worth your while.