Our firm’s practice encompasses all aspects of Admiralty and Maritime Law with special emphasis on the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, as it is more commonly known. The Jones Act allows for injured seamen to file suit directly against their employer, and collect money damages, for any of their employer’s negligence which may have caused or contributed to the employee’s injury. This allows seamen to bring actions against ship owners based on claims of unseaworthiness or negligence.

The lawyers of the Rebar Kelly’s Admiralty and Maritime Law group are experienced with the intricacies unique to a Jones Act case, such as what is required to qualify as a “seaman” for benefits under the Act, and challenging the definition of “navigable waters.” Unlike traditional workers’ compensation law, the Jones Act allows for an injured worker to collect 100% of their lost earnings even damages including death benefits, in the event that a sailor is killed on the job. An action under the Act may be brought either in a U.S. federal court or in a state court. Rebar Kelly’s attorneys have experience defending these claims which can expose employers to greater risk.

Early defense counsel involvement can significantly reduce a Jones Act damage award. Since contributory negligence is a key defense available to vessel captains and owners, it is important to secure a written statement from the injured employee as soon as practicable following the incident. Rebar Kelly’ attorneys are skilled in preserving evidence and building a defense to these cases from the outset.


Frank V. Kelly