Jones Act Attorney Straight Talk: What Is Jones Act Negligence?

Jones Act Attorney Straight Talk

This article is one in a series of Jones Act Attorney Straight Talk articles. These articles are based upon 25 years of representing Jones Act Seaman. If you search for “Jones Act Attorney Straight Talk” on the Internet, you will find a whole host of articles where we provide you with great free and useful information so you can understand and win your Jones Act case.

Jones Act Negligence Explained

In my experience, most Seaman don’t really understand Jones Act negligence or what it means to be a Jones Act Seaman under the law. This article by a Jones Act Attorney explains Jones Act Negligence.

You will see Jones Act negligence is very, very different from ordinary negligence under State law. In many instances it is much easier to prove neglience under the Jones Act than in a State law claim such as a automobile accident or a slip and fall in a grocery store. Jones Act negligence is said to be the lowest form of neglience under the law. Meaning the level of negligence is much lower threshold in a Jones Act case than a State law claim. That being said there are other maritime principals – which do not apply to State law claims – such as the Primary Duty Doctrine and Seaman Status that you may need to overcome in order to receive Jones Act Seaman damages such as pain and suffering, future medical treatment and future wage loss.

Jones Act Negligence vs. Unseaworthness?

You need to understand that Jones Act Negligence claims are very, very different from Unseaworthiness claims. In a nutshell, a negligence claim is based upon the acts and/or omissions of your employer. An Unseaworthness claim instead is based upon the condition of the vessel.

Who Is A Jones Act Negligence Claim Against?

A Jones Act negligence claim is against your employer. While this sounds simple and straightforward, that is not always the case. An unseaworthiness claim is against the vessel – which is often owned by an entity other than your employer. This is one area where you really need a seasoned Jones Act Lawyer.

What Do I Need To Prove?

To recover under a Jones Act claim, you have the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence, negligence on the part of your employer and that the negligence was a cause, however slight, of your injuries. This “slight negligence” standard is extremely powerful.

What is Negligence Under The Jones Act?

Under the Law, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care.

What Is “Reasonable Care?”

Under the Law, reasonable care is the degree of care that a reasonably prudent person (or company) would use under similar circumstances to avoid injury to themselves or others.

In other words, the law looks at what a reasonable prudent person (or company) would do or not do under like circumstances. If a reasonable person/ company would not do the alleged act, then it is negligence.

Negligence can also be based upon the failure to act. This is called an omission. If a reasonably prudent person/ company would have acted differently under similar circumstances, then it is negligence.


This article is not legal advice. I am simplistic in order to achieve clarity. Your circumstances may be different from those described in this Jones Act Negligence article. If you are a seriously injured Seaman, you should hire a seasoned Jones Act Lawyer. Your job is to make sure the Lawyer you hire actually walks the walk. Just because a lawyer calls themselves a Jones Act Lawyer, doesn’t mean they really are a Jones Act Lawyer. Finally, whenever you are bringing a Jones Act claim, your credibility is always at issue. Meaning, you must always tell the truth.

Bill Turley is a California Jones Act Attorney with offices in San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He was an invited Jones Act Attorney Speaker on the Jones Act at the California Maritime Personal Injury Seminar.

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