Monday, July 27, 2015

City not immune to Jones Act

In the most recent instance of the Jones Act in the news, a NYPD counter-terrorism detective has filed a claim under the Act, claiming injuries that occurred during a rescue.  The $106 million lawsuit alleged the city failed to provide him with safe tools, equipment, and a “competent” crew of fellow officers. 

Under the Jones Act, the employer/employee relationship is spelled out to allow for recovery from personal injury claims due to the employer’s negligence.  The employee must also meet the requirement of spending at least 30% of his time in the service of said vessel or fleet of vessels on navigable waters. 

Here, the NYPD officer’s claims arise from the rescue of a capsized boat on the East river.  The officer was injured while pulling those in the capsized boat to safety.  As a member of the NYPD Harbor Unit, the officer will likely satisfy the requirement that he spend at least 30% of his time in the service of the fleet, even if it is not on a specific vessel.  

The damages can accumulate quickly and are often negotiated for when settling a case like the one mentioned above.  Permitted damages include: medical expense, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of support to dependents or widow, loss of value of household services, and funeral services to name a few.   The suit alleges severe physical pain and mental anguish, including back and neck pain for which he seeks to recover.