Fitts Zehl LLPLaw Firm in Mobile, AL

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Our highly experienced maritime injury attorneys have extensive knowledge regarding the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and general maritime law. Fitts Zehl attorneys have represented many injured individuals and their families in recovering the compensation they deserve. Our skilled Act lawyer will devote every resource to ensure you and your family receives every dollar you are entitled to.


In the past three years alone, Fitts Zehl has earned more than $150 million in verdicts and settlements against maritime companies of all sizes, including BP, Transocean, Hercules, Oceaneering, Nobel and others. Fitts Zehl is also one of the few firms that were hired to represent workers in connection with 4 of the nation’s largest workplace disasters in the past 10 years, including the BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon Explosion, the BP Texas City Explosion, the Imperial Sugar Refinery Explosion, and the International Paper Explosion.


Our aim is to earn our customers maximum compensation as soon as possible. Our dedicated maritime trial attorneys are always prepared to take a case to court and will settle for nothing less than full and fair compensation for our clients’ losses after a serious maritime injury. In 2014 alone, we took 6 cases to trial. We won every one of them.

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(800) 993-4887
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The Jones Act & Maritime Law

Jones Act Summary & Definition of a Seaman

The Jones Act, originally called the Merchant Marine Act, was adopted in 1920 as a means of regulating maritime commerce on United States waters. This federal statute provides thorough protections for any individual who meets the definition of a “seaman”. In order to be covered by the law, you must:

  • Spend at least 30% of your time
  • In the service of a particular vessel or fleet of vessels
  • In navigable waters

This means that in order to receive the protection of the Jones Act, you must spend a substantial portion of your time contributing to the overall purpose or function of a particular ship or rig while it is actually in operation on the water. If you meet this definition, you are most likely eligible to seek damages if your injury resulted due to the negligence of your captain or fellow crew.

The following are examples of conditions that make a vessel unseaworthy and allow injured workers to recover damages:

  • Not having enough equipment or crewmembers to do a job safely;
  • Missing or broken safety equipment;
  • Unsafe orders from rig operators or superiors;
  • The presence of dangerous conditions, like open holes in the vessel’s deck and steps without non-skid grating.
  • Maritime Law

General maritime law refers to the rights and damages allowed under the common law. General maritime law offers protections to both Jones Act seamen and non-Jones Act seamen injured while in a maritime environment. For Jones Act seamen, provisions include:

    • Maintenance and Cure
    • Common Law Negligence Against a Third Party
    • Unseaworthiness

    Essentially, general maritime law allows both seamen and non-seamen to file claims against third-party individuals (not your employer) for any negligence that ultimately contributed to injury or death.
    Common Offshore Injuries & Jones Act Personal Injury Damages

    The following information on common offshore injuries and Jones Act personal injury damages is provided by Fitts Zehl, LLP, a Jones Act law firm based in Houston. If you were injured while working offshore, contact Fitts Zehl.


    The Jones Act was originally adopted by Congress in order to protect the thousands of seamen who work each day in shipping, fishing, petroleum production and other vital maritime industries. Because these jobs often involve the use of heavy equipment on wet surfaces, accidents and injuries are inevitable. Understanding that the sea was, and always would be, a dangerous and unpredictable place to work, legislators sought to reassure seamen that in return for their sweat and sacrifice, they would be well taken care of in the event of injury or illness.


    Unfortunately, bad weather and dangerous equipment aren’t the only threats to the health and safety of seamen on the open waters. Far too many offshore injuries result due to the negligence or carelessness of the captain or crew. A few common offshore injuries include:

    • Impact Injuries
      • Broken Bones
      • Lacerations
    • Neck and Back injuries
      • Spinal Cord Damage
      • Herniated Discs
    • Head Injuries
      • Concussions
      • Brain Damage
    • Burns/Chemical Exposure
    • Loss of Limb
    • Drowning

    Because of the potential for serious, even life-threatening injuries like the ones listed above, the Jones Act allows injured seamen to more easily recover damages so long as someone else was negligent in causing the accident. These Jones Act personal injury damages can include:

    • Medical Expenses
      Compensation to cover hospital bills, injections, surgeries or any other necessary treatment until you reach maximum medical improvement.
    • Pain and Suffering
      Compensation for physical pain and discomfort from the injury.
    • Lost Wages
      The money you would have made since your accident had you been able to work.
    • Physical Impairment
      Compensation for your inability to do the things you once did before your injury, like exercise or play with your children.
    • Mental Anguish
      Compensation for emotional trauma stemming from the injury.
    • Lost Earning Capacity in the Future
      The money you would have made had you been able to keep working in the future.
    • Disfigurement/Loss of Limb
      Compensation for any embarrassment or humiliation you may feel due to changes in your physical condition, including changes in how you walk and decreases in your ability to hear.
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