Q: I was recently injured in a Texas maritime accident, and I think that I may be covered by the Jones Act. I am still out at sea, and have yet to file a claim – how much time do I have?
In nearly every potential legal case, there is a time limit placed on how long the plaintiff can take before filing a claim. There are several reasons for these deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, but the primary reason is that the availability and quality of evidence declines over time. After a certain period, the deterioration of witnesses’ memories and tangible evidence prevents a case from being tried properly, and the implementation of the statute of limitations helps protect defendants from cases that have been brought in error or bad faith.
Maritime workers are in a unique situation, however. Unlike most people, maritime workers spend days, weeks, or even months at sea. If a maritime worker is injured while at sea, it could be months before they are able to meet with an attorney and doctor of their choosing. This means that maritime workers need a longer statute of limitations than most other people, and that is exactly what the Jones Act allows.
Individuals filing a claim under the Jones Act are entitled to three years from the date of their injury to file their claim. While there are certain exceptions to this rule that could shorten or extend the length of time allowed, three years is the generally accepted amount of time.
If you work on a U.S. government or U.S. chartered vessel, your case could fall under a different act, known as the Public Vessels Act. Those covered under the Public Vessels Act, or Suits in Admiralty Act, have only two years to file their claim.
If you have been injured in a Texas maritime accident, it is best to contact an experienced lawyer that can steer you in the right direction. Houston maritime injury Attorney Steve Lee is standing by to answer your questions now. Call today (800-232-3711) to speak to a lawyer with a proven track record in Texas maritime law.