The case of Salem v. United States Lines Co., 370 U.S. 31 (1962) is a 1960’s era Supreme Court case that determined that it was not always necessary for a plaintiff to use an expert witness to prove that a ship owner or employer was negligent for purposes of asserting a Jones Act claim. This case began when a seaman became injured as he moved from a ladder to a platform leading to his post in the crow’s nest on his ship. Due to a lack of safety measures, the seaman fell from the crow’s nest when the vessel encountered rough waters and suffered severe injuries.
The seaman filed a compensation claim for his injuries under the Jones Act. The ship owner disputed the claim that was based upon the fact that the ship owner was negligent for not maintaining certain safety features on his vessel that could have prevented the seaman’s fall. The ship owner argued that in order to be compensated, the seaman needed to have someone who was an expert in vessel engineering testify that the ship owner was negligent.
In cases that involve highly technical, scientific or medical information, an expert witness is almost always required to explain the evidence to the court. However, in this case, the Supreme Court found that nearly any reasonable person could understand that the ship lacked necessary safety features and that the seaman would not have been injured if the conditions on the ship were safe.
Many injuries that occur on vessels are the result of a ship owner’s negligence. A Texas Jones Act lawyer can help you to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation for your injury. A Texas Jones Act lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether expert testimony is needed to prove your claim. A Texas Jones Act lawyer may be able to conclude that your employer’s negligence will not require the use of an expert witness by researching relevant case law and statutory provisions.
If an expert witness is required in your case, a Texas Jones Act lawyer may be able to secure a reputable expert to testify on your behalf. If you have been injured at sea, you should contact a Texas Jones Act lawyer immediately to protect your right to compensation under the law.