Who is Covered by the Jones Act?
The Jones Act provides coverage to seamen who work aboard vessels. Most employees aboard ships, tugs, fishing boats, barges, and dredges will be Jones Act seamen. To be a seaman, you must be more or less permanently connected to the vessel that is in navigation, and your work must contribute to the mission of the vessel.
Masters and members of a ship's crew are seamen. Fishermen and fish processors are Jones Act seamen. Harbor workers, guests, and persons only temporarily aboard a vessel will likely not be Jones Act seamen. Confusion sometimes arises as to whether a worker is in Jones Act status or under Longshore Harbor Workers. These cases should be carefully evaluated by an experienced maritime lawyer to determine which act may apply.
The Jones Act is a fault-based system, and you must prove negligence to get compensation under the Jones Act. To read more about your potential benefits under the Jones Act, click here.
The General Maritime Law also provides benefits and remedies that supplement the Jones Act. A seaman has a right to maintenance and cure and unearned wages until the end of the voyage. Maintenance and cure is a no-fault remedy in that you do not have to prove negligence to receive these basic medical coverage benefits - you must simply be injured or fall ill while in the services of the vessel. There are few exceptions to the duty of an employer to pay his crewman's reasonable and necessary medical expenses. To learn more about your rights to maintenance and cure, click here.
The owner of a vessel also owes crewmen a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Seamen who can prove their vessel was unseaworthy are entitled to damages and compensation under the General Maritime law. Damages for unseaworthiness include compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, physical and psychological pain, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, and vocational retraining costs. To learn more about unseaworthiness, click here.
If you have been injured at sea, please contact an experienced maritime law attorney at Beard Stacey & Jacobsen today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.