The maritime industry is full of high-risk scenarios, and as a seaman, your employer has an obligation to exercise reasonable care to protect you from these risks. Failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care as a maritime employer is negligence, and cause for a seaman to pursue compensation.

The federal maritime law that governs a maritime employer’s negligence is 46 U.S.C. § 30104, known as the Jones Act. When pursuing a civil case as an injured seaman against your maritime employer in the Pacific Northwest, California, or Hawaii, an experienced Seattle Jones Act attorney can help you establish what constitutes a reasonable duty of care and how your maritime employer violated it.

Jones Act Injury Lawyer for Duty of Reasonable Care in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington

As an employee of a maritime company, you are owed a certain duty of reasonable care and a reasonably safe place to work under the circumstances. If you have been injured due to the lack of such reasonable care by a maritime employer in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, or Hawaii, the skilled and experienced maritime injury attorneys of BOATLAW, LLP in Seattle, Portland, and Bellingham can fight for maximum compensation in your case.

The Washington and Oregon maritime injury lawyers of BOATLAW, LLP have decades of combined experienced and a personal passion for the maritime industry that stems from their own maritime business and pleasure pursuits. To find out what BOATLAW, LLP can do for you and your Jones Act injury case, call 1-800-262-8529 today and schedule your free initial case consultation.

Duty of Reasonable Care and the Jones Act

Similar to the definition found in regular tort law, maritime duty of reasonable care is the responsibility of a person or entity to exercise the same degree of care that a reasonably prudent person or entity would exercise under like circumstances to avoid injury. It is negligence to do something a reasonably prudent person or entity would not do. Failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person or entity would do is also considered negligence.

Where the maritime duty of reasonable care and the tort law duty of reasonable care differ, however, is in the fluidity of what is considered reasonable in maritime ventures due to the associated higher risk. A crewmember, harbor worker, or other maritime employee is expected to have some degree of knowledge of the risks involved with working in a maritime environment. Though several of these risks can be mitigated, not all of them can be prevented and it is not the responsibility of the maritime employer to provide an accident-free workplace in such a high-risk environment.

It is the responsibility of the maritime employer to at least make a reasonable attempt at reducing as much risk as is reasonably possible under the circumstances. For instance, a ferry operator who delays a departure due to information about unusually high swells on its normal course is exercising a reasonable duty of care. That same duty of reasonable care is not expected if the ferry operator encounters high swells unexpectedly on his or her normal route.

As a maritime employee, you are owed a duty of reasonable care by your maritime employer. Failure to provide such a duty of care is considered negligence. Establishing the duty of care owed you and the negligence of your employer in failing to exercise such reasonable duty of care is critical for a successful Jones Act claim. An experienced Seattle maritime injury attorney can build a case of employer negligence for your injury and fight to recover maximum compensation for you.

Back to top

Establishing Lack of Reasonable Care Under the Jones Act

In order for a seaman such as a commercial fisherman, officer, mariner, or mate to successfully pursue a claim against his or her employer under the Jones Act, the employer’s duty of reasonable care to the seaman must be established. Additionally, the subsequent breach of that duty must be established as a proximate cause of the seaman’s damages. What degree of care is considered reasonable will vary, as will what is considered a breach of such duty. These are determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Whether harm to seaman was foreseeable
  • Degree of certainty that harm to seaman was caused
  • Whether seaman contributed any negligence to the incident
  • If proper training was given to seaman by maritime company
  • Whether the actions of the maritime company followed industry standards
  • If there are any maritime injury cases serving as a precedent

Once the duty of reasonable care is established, the seaman and his or her experienced maritime personal injury attorney must establish causation. “To establish causation, an employer must show that a seaman’s negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury.” Martinez v. Offshore Specialty Fabricators, Inc., 481 Fed.Appx. 942, 947 (5th Cir. 2012).

To prove beyond a preponderance of the evidence means to prove beyond a 50% probability of truth. A successful Jones Act maritime injury case establishes what would have been a reasonable duty of care for your employer to exercise under the circumstances, how your employer failed to exercise or breached such duty of care, and that such negligence was a major contributor to your injuries and/or damages.

It is important to remember that there may be a fine line between what is claimable under the Jones Act as negligence by your maritime employer and what is considered unseaworthiness by the vessel owner. The services of an experienced Washington Jones Act maritime injury lawyer are highly recommended when establishing duty of reasonable care and negligence for an injury claim under the Jones Act.

Back to top

BOATLAW, LLP | Seattle Jones Act Injury Attorney for Lack of Duty of Reasonable Care

If you are a seaman who is injured and qualified to pursue damages under the Jones Act due to your maritime employer’s lack of reasonable care, contact the experienced maritime injury attorneys of BOATLAW, LLP in Bellingham, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland. They serve Jones Act injured seamen coast-to-coast, including in the Pacific Northwest waters of the Pacific, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Puget Sound, and the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska, as well as the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, and Hawaii. Your first consultation with BOATLAW, LLP is free, so call 1-800-262-8529 today and schedule yours.