Starting in Pennsylvania and snaking all the way down to Illinois, the Ohio River is 981 miles long and travels through six states including Kentucky. It’s been a significant route for commercial trade and travel ever since its banks were first settled. Today, the river remains one of our state’s most populated commercial trade channels.
The most common form of commercial river-based (often referred to as “maritime”) activity on the Ohio River and its numerous tributaries involves the use of tow boats that haul barges carrying cargo. Some of the common types of cargo delivered up and down the river include dry bulk cargo, chemical-based products, and petroleum-based products.
Kentucky river workers commonly work aboard the tow and haul boats or work with barges at local cargo docks. Since Ohio River workers spend so much time aboard cargo vessels that transverse up and down the river, they are affected by an area of law referred to as maritime law. Maritime law is separate from other laws which govern workers. If you’ve been injured aboard a vessel while working on the Ohio River, you need the expertise of a Paducah, KY river injury lawyer.
How the Jones Act Protects Ohio River Workers
Employees who are injured or killed while serving at least 30% of their work time as an active crew member on a sea or river-faring vessel are covered by the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a major part of maritime law and was passed in 1920 as an effort to protect the rights of crew members when they’re traveling in between states or countries on the open water.
The Jones Act is a statute that holds employers legally responsible for any negligence that occurs on their ships or tow boats. That negligence can take the form of many acts such as failing to keep a cargo ship’s quarters clean to not properly maintaining a ship. The statute protects all vessel workers. To be eligible, that crew member must work aboard a traveling vessel at least 30% of the time while on the job, however.
A secondary doctrine also protects Kentucky maritime workers. This doctrine is what is referred to as the doctrine of unseaworthiness and states that a vessel’s owner has a legal obligation to ensure their vessel is 100% seaworthy and/or ready to travel on the open water. Anytime a ship or boat isn’t properly maintained or causes injury, that vessel can be declared partially or completely unseaworthy. When this declaration happens in court, the owner is responsible for any damages accrued.
Recovering Damages with the help of a Kentucky River Injury Lawyer
Between the Jones Act and the doctrine of unseaworthiness, Kentucky maritime workers are protected when injured. If you or a loved one has been injured while working aboard a river vessel, you may be eligible to recover compensatory damages. These can include payments that go towards medical bills, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and more. In some circumstances, punitive damages can also be rewarded which ensure that the employer acts to keep workers safe.
If you have any questions or feel you may have a possible case, don’t hesitate to contact Daryl T. Dixon, Paducah, KY river injury lawyer, today. Additionally, if you were injured in a recreational boating accident in Kentucky, we can be of assistance there as well. Our office has the experience and expertise you need. We’re more than happy to assist and provide you with a confidential case consultation.