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Ship captain files Jones Act lawsuit in Texas court

Employers, both on the land and on the sea, have a duty under the law to keep their employees reasonably safe from injuries and illnesses. But as most people know, the laws of the sea are somewhat different from the laws of the land.

There are special federal laws in place in place to keep maritime workers safe. For example, the Jones Act allows maritime workers to sue their employers if they are injured because of negligence on behalf of the employer. Workers on all types of maritime vessels, including boats, ships, barges, tugboats, cruise ships, tour boats, fishing vessels, drilling vessels, and ferries are covered under the Jones Act.

Louisiana ship captain is suing his employer, Global International Marine Inc., under the Jones Act after he fell twice while working on the company's vessel. The ship captain's complaint, which was filed in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas on June 30, alleges that his employer breached its absolute duty to furnish a seaworthy vessel.

Documents filed in court said that the captain and his crew were lowering equipment by rope on the M/V Doradoor in November of 2010 when the rope broke and fell on the captain, which caused him to fall backwards and down a flight of stairs before landing on equipment in the engine room below.

"The plaintiff attempted to continue to work, then slipped and fell on the slippery deck," the captain's complaint stated. Ultimately, the complaint alleges that the captain "suffered severe and disabling personal injuries due to the negligence of the defendant and/or the unseaworthiness of the vessel."

Successful maritime lawsuits under the Jones Act allow injured workers to recover compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, physical therapy, retraining costs, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Jones Act suit filed by ship captain," John Suayan, 7/18/2011.

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