Jones Act Compensation When a Fisherman May Have Been Partially at Fault

October 1, 2020

“Can I Still Receive Compensation Under the Jones Act Even if I Contributed to the Accident?”

That is often the question we hear from commercial fishermen and often what keeps him/her from pursuing their rights under the Jones Act.

The truth is this:

Under the Jones Act even if you are negligent you can recover your damages. However, the amount you recover will be reduced by the percentage of negligence that a jury or other fact-finder attributes to you. By way of an example, if you sue your employer under the Jones Act and the matter proceeds to trial and the jury awards you $100,000 but also finds that you were 75% at fault or negligent and that your negligence caused you to be injured, you will only recover $25,000, i.e. the damage award will be reduced by your percentage of the negligence.

Another important concept with respect to the concepts of comparative negligence is a legal principle called per se negligence. If you are injured in a maritime accident and your Jones Act maritime employer violated a safety regulation which contributed to cause your accident, then comparative negligence, if any, simply does not apply. In other words, where an employer has violated a safety regulation, they are not entitled to the benefit of having a jury or fact-finder consider the inured employee’s negligence at all. Thus, if you are injured in a case where your employer violated such a regulation, a jury will not typically even hear evidence of your negligence because it is simply not relevant.

Simply put, if a Jones Act maritime employer violates a safety regulation and it causes an accident the employer is strictly liable for that accident no matter the facts.

The complexities of the Jones Act and other types of maritime litigation can be daunting.

Flynn|Wirkus|Young is extremely knowledgeable in maritime law and we welcome the opportunity to assist you. We have built a reputation for providing exceptional representation to fishermen, lobstermen, longshoremen, shipyard workers, maritime industrial workers, and other subcontractors who have been victims of workplace accidents, catastrophic injuries, or discrimination. 

If you have any questions in this regard, especially if you feel you have been injured on a commercial fishing vessel, please don’t hesitate to email us here or call us at (617) 773-5500.