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Knee Injuries in Jones Act Cases

A knee injury can be devastating to anyone, but particularly to maritime workers who make a living doing physical labor on commercial fishing and shipping vessels. The knee is the largest joint in the body and composed of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, making it vulnerable to a wide variety of injuries. Common knee injuries that seamen suffer include:

  • Fractures;
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), meniscus, and tendon tears and sprains;
  • Inflammation or tendinitis;
  • Bursitis;
  • Contusions;
  • Dislocations; and
  • Ruptures.

Knee injuries can be caused by one-time accidents, like slipping and falling on the deck or being crushed by heavy equipment. However, they can also occur from overuse. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the treatment will differ. A physical examination, x-ray, or MRI may be needed to diagnose the knee injury. Some knee injuries can be successfully treated by braces and rehabilitation, while others will need surgery to repair. Seamen who suffer knee injuries on the job may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act is a federal statute and one of the primary legal claims available to injured seamen. It requires that employers provide their seamen with a reasonably safe workplace. If seamen are injured as a result of their employer’s or coworker’s negligence, they can sue their employer for negligence damages. Negligence can take many forms, including unsafe or improper instructions, an unsafe workplace, or dangerous acts by coworkers. Most maritime injuries can be avoided if employers act in a safe manner.

Under the Jones Act, the burden of proof for causation is “feather-weight.” This rule means that you only need to prove that your employer’s negligence was a cause of the injury, no matter how small of a cause. This is a much lower burden than most personal injury claims and very favorable to injured seamen. The low burden of proof is particularly useful when you need to prove that your injury is the result of a recent accident, not the continuation of an old injury that you sustained offshore.

Injured seamen must file a claim under the Jones Act within three years of their injury, but it is recommended not to wait that long. Instead, you should reach out to a maritime attorney as soon as possible after seeking immediate medical assistance. Proving negligence requires evidence, and if you wait too long, accident reports can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses may forget important details. It is especially important to contact an attorney if you feel you are being coerced into signing something, or you believe your rights are being violated.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have suffered knee injuries against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.