How Long Do You Have to File a Claim Under the Jones Act?

JANUARY 26, 2011 by Bill Abbott

Ordinarily, the law places a limit on the amount of time that an individual has to file a personal injury or work related claim. This time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In such cases, once the statutory time period has passed, an injured person will be prevented fro­­m having his or her case decided by a court. Injuries that are covered under the Jones Act typically have a three-year limit for filing.

Employers may raise a defense or attempt to have an employee’s case dismissed if it is not filed within a reasonable amount of time, even if it is filed within the three-year statutory period.  This defense is an old legal principal called “laches.” Jones Act attorneys who are intimately familiar with this principal understand that a Jones Act injury claim should be filed as soon as possible. Under the laches defense, a claim will be dismissed or thrown out, if a judge finds an inexcusable delay in filing a claim that places the employer at a disadvantage.  ­

An inexcusable delay basically means that an injured employee failed to file a claim within a reasonable amount of time and there was no good reason to explain why he waited. Jones Act lawyers understand that excusable delays may occur if the employee was seriously injured and required intensive medical treatment for a long period of time.  A delay may also be excusable if the employee was threatened or pressured by his employer to not file a claim. If either of these scenarios applies to your situation, you should contact a Jones Act attorney immediately to discuss your case.

A Jones Act lawyer can evaluate an employee’s case and advise him on his rights under the Jones Act. Jones Act attorneys evaluate client cases by researching federal laws and prior court decisions that are relevant to the time limitations for filing a Jones Act claim. If you were injured while working at sea, you should contact a Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that you follow the proper procedures for notifying your employer of your injury and filing a timely claim that will not be dismissed under the laches defense.

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