Are Jones Act Claims Possible After Physical or Sexual Assault?
Most people associate the Jones Act with hazardous conditions and accidents that injure seamen. For decades, the Jones Act has held employers accountable for failing to provide a safe work environment. While the Jones Act covers accidents like falls, explosions, toxic exposure, and other dangerous situations, many offshore workers don’t realize they might be able to recover damages after being assaulted on a vessel.
Why Does the Jones Act Apply to Physical Assault?
The Jones Act makes sure of one specific thing: that vessel owners provide a safe work environment for their employees. As mentioned above, failures to comply with the Jones Act often manifest as work accidents. However, the Jones Act is usable for incidents of assault between coworkers. Since vessel owners have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for offshore workers, they must prevent any physical altercations from occurring between crewmembers.
Employers might be liable for assault if they:
- Failed to conduct adequate background checks
- Hired someone with a history of violence
- Failed to screen for mental health issues
- Ignored the concerns of other workers
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Another way an employer might be responsible for assault between crewmembers is through a concept known as vicarious liability. This concept acknowledges the control that an employer is supposed to have over their crew. Essentially, vicarious liability states that a vessel owner failed to enforce the proper conduct needed to protect crewmembers from assault.
When companies hire workers, it’s their responsibility to enforce a culture of safety. In the case of physical assault, a company has likely failed to uphold these standards. In many instances, altercations involving violent workers could have been prevented had employers heeded early warning signs exhibited by the unstable or violent individual.
Assault on ships can cause injuries such as:
- Head and brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Spine injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and abrasions
- Puncture wounds
- Blunt force trauma
- Emotional injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Besides causing physical danger, employers who allow instances of assault to happen on their vessels create an atmosphere of fear for workers. After an assault happens, workers might be afraid to speak up for concerns they have regarding the situation and other safety issues on a ship.
Does the Jones Act Apply to Sexual Assault?
Yes, the Jones Act can help survivors of sexual assault. As mentioned above, vessel owners are responsible for making sure a crew is safe—this includes ensuring all workers are shielded from sexual assault. This even includes making sure workers aren’t subjected to attempted sexual assault—an experience that can cause lasting trauma.
If you’ve suffered from sexual assault while offshore, it’s crucial to report it to a supervisor or your company as soon as possible. Additionally, be certain to document any physical signs of your assault, such as bruising and other injuries.
Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a professional. Sexual assault can leave as many emotional injuries as it does physical. Getting help as soon as possible can be important for your well-being. Additionally, it might help provide crucial evidence for your Jones Act injury claim.
Assaulted on a Vessel? Call Our Jones Act Lawyers Today
If you’ve sustained injuries caused by an assault by another offshore worker, it’s time to call Arnold & Itkin LLP. What happened to you was likely preventable, and we're ready to fight for the answers you deserve. Our team has recovered billions for clients and is ready to fight for the compensation that you need for medical bills, lost wages, and other hardships associated with your injuries.
Call our Jones Act lawyers today for a free consultation at (888) 346-5024. We’re ready to help you explore your options right now.