The Jones Act is a federal law that allows a seaman to hold an employer liable for injuries caused by negligence. To prove liability in a negligence case, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s careless or reckless conduct was the proximate cause of their injuries. Here, our Houston Jones Act lawyer explains the most important things to know about proving causation in Jones Act injury claim.
Proximate Cause: Understanding the Basics
Negligence is the failure to take adequate care. In a personal injury claim—including in a Jones Act injury claim—causation is a required element of negligence. In effect, this means that a plaintiff must prove that the defendant not only engaged in careless or reckless conduct, but that improper conduct in question must have contributed to the accident.
The term ‘proximate cause’ can be simply understood as a ‘legal cause.’ Of course, causation is not always clear. In many cases, accidents can (and often do) have more than one cause. To bring a successful accident claim, the plaintiff merely needs to prove that the defendant’s negligent conduct is sufficiently related to the accident in question to prove liability.
Easier to Prove Causation Under Jones Act than Other Personal Injury Claims
Proving causation can sometimes prove to be a challenge. In some Jones Act cases, employers attempt to defend themselves against liability by trying to break causation. The good news for maritime workers is that it is actually easier to prove causation in a Jones Act injury case than it is in a standard personal injury case.
The reason for this is that Jones Act plaintiffs enjoy a so-called “featherweight” burden of causation. Simply put, federal courts presume that a vessel’s unseaworthiness is likely to be related to a maritime worker’s injuries. As a consequence, an employee who can prove that they were injured while aboard an unseaworthiness vessel has a lower standard to meet to prove that there is causation between the dangerous conditions on the vessel and their accident.
Notably, in 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed that a less-strict standard for causation applies in determining negligence in a Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claim. In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court found in favor of the plaintiff in the case of CSX Transportation v McBride. The railroad industry decision has important implications for maritime workers because the Jones Act is interpreted under the same negligence standards as FELA.
Get Help From a Top-Rated Jones Act Injury Attorney in Houston, TX
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Texas Jones Act lawyers have the specialized professional skills and legal expertise to get injured workers and their families the maximum available financial compensation. If you have questions about proving causation in a Jones Act claim, we are here to help. To arrange a free, strictly confidential review and evaluation of your case, please contact our legal team now. We provide legal services to injured workers through the Gulf Coast region.