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California Jones Act Seaman and California "Sieracki Seaman": Practical Considerations -

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Too often articles by lawyers about the law are too abstract or "talk down" to readers. We aim to be different. Our goal is straight - talk. This series of articles is intended for California Seaman. Meaning, Seaman that have contacts to California. However, many of the concepts and considerations apply to injured Seaman everywhere.


Negligence under the Jones Act is the failure to use reasonable care. Reasonable care is the degree of care that reasonably prudent persons would use under like circumstances to avoid injury to themselves or others. Negligence is the doing of something that a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do, under the circumstances.


The employer of a seaman owes the seaman a duty under the Jones Act to provide the seaman a safe place to work. This duty extends to providing a safe place to work on the ship of a third party over which the employer has no control, if that is where the seaman's employer sends him or her to work.


Negligence under the Jones Act is a cause of an injury if it played any part, no matter how slight, in bringing about the injury or damage, even if the negligence operated in combination with the acts of another, or in combination with some other cause.


Even the slightest negligence" is sufficient to support a Jones Act finding of negligence. This test is often described as a "featherweight causation standard" and allows a seaman to survive summary judgment by presenting even the slightest proof of causation.

Jones Act negligence is often called the lowest level of negligence known to law. This is one of the powerful Seaman's rights and remedies. Jones Act negligence can take many forms. From a leaky water cooler that is not maintained properly to a rickety ladder to oil left on the deck to being run over by a co-worker driving a forklift.

Some folks say proving Jones Act negligence is as easy as falling out of a boat and hitting water. Our suggestion is to not be so casual about the cause of action. Your lawyer should prepare and be prepared to prove your case as any land-based negligence case. Remember, at the end of the day your lawyer needs to motivate your jury. One motivation is showing your employer "done you wrong." Meaning, the ability to show fault by your employer caused your injuries.
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