Jones Act Benefits
If you were injured or became ill in the service of a vessel, you are entitled to maintenance, cure, and unearned wages without a showing a fault. These remedies are available to you regardless of the cause of the injury or illness.
Maintenance is a daily stipend or payment to cover your room and board expenses while you recover from an injury. You are entitled to maintenance from the end of the voyage following an injury until the point at which your injury reaches maximum medical improvement. Your doctors will determine when your condition has reached maximum medical improvement. Maintenance rates may be set by your employment contract with your employer or may be set by agreement with the company. However, even in cases where the employment contract provides for the amount of maintenance in the event of an injury, you may be able to increase your maintenance rate if your actual expenses exceed the rate provided in the contract. You should contact an experienced maritime injury lawyer to help you determine if you are entitled to a higher rate of maintenance while you recover from an injury or illness.
2. Medical Cure.
Medical cure is your medical expenses related to an injury, illness, or condition that began or was aggravated during your service of the vessel. Your employer has a duty to promptly pay medical expenses for any condition until the point your condition reaches maximum medical improvement. A condition reaches maximum medical improvement when no further medical treatment will improve the condition. You have the right to consult with physicians and medical providers of your own choosing and are not required to see medical providers recommended by the company. Medical cure also includes any prescription charges and any transportation necessary to attend medical appointments.
3. Unearned Wages.
Unearned wages are the amount of money you would have earned if you had remained on the vessel to the end of the voyage, the end of the contract, or the end of your normal pay period. Your employer has a duty to pay all earnings that you would have earned if you had not been injured or become ill while in the service of the vessel. You may want to consult with other employees to determine what they earned during the same period to determine if you have been fairly compensated for unearned wages.What about benefits under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law?
In addition to the basic maritime remedies of maintenance, cure, and unearned wages, you are entitled to important additional benefits if you can show that your employer or another crew member was at-fault for your injury, the working environment was unsafe, or if defective or unsafe equipment contributed to your injury. Our lawyers are ready to help you determine whether the circumstances of your injury gives rise to additional benefits under the Jones Act or general maritime law.The Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, an employer has a duty to provide a seaman with a reasonably safe place to work and is responsible for the negligence of other employees or supervisors and any known unsafe condition on the vessel. A seaman need only show that his employer’s negligence was a cause, however slight, of his injury in order to make a recovery. When looking into whether your employer was negligent under the Jones Act, our lawyers will consider the full circumstances of your injury and conduct a careful investigation of the facts and evidence. Examples of negligence may include:
- Failure to properly train employees;
- Failure to provide tools and equipment that are reasonably safe for performance of work;
- Failure to provide equipment and appliances that are suitable for the work to be done;
- Failure to provide safe access to the vessel;
- Failure to provide adequate safety measures;
- Negligent orders or instructions;
- Requiring excessive overtime;
- Failure to make proper inspections;
- Negligent hiring of crew;
- Failure to correct safety hazards;
- Creating working conditions that cause an unreasonable rush or pace of work;
- Violation of industry safety customs;
- Violations of company safety policies;
- Failure to maintain equipment;
- Unsafe storage of cargo; and
- Any unsafe method of work.
Under general maritime law, a vessel owner is responsible for injuries caused by an unseaworthy condition. The seaman must show that the unseaworthy condition was a substantial factor in his or her injury. Vessel equipment or appliances is unseaworthy when it is not fit for its “ordinary and intended” use. A vessel may also be unseaworthy if insufficient crew is assigned to perform a task safely or if the vessel is engaged in an unsafe method of operation. Examples of unseaworthy conditions include:
- Insufficient or incompetent crew;
- Unsafe manner of work;
- Carrying unreasonably heavy loads without mechanical assistance;
- Improper storage of cargo;
- Failure of a piece of equipment under normal use;
- Obstructions on deck;
- Unsafe ladders or stairs;
- Defective tools;
- Defective machines;
- Slippery decks;
- Negligent orders;
- Assaults by fellow crewmembers;
- Inadequate safety equipment; and
- Failure to provide safe access to the vessel from the dock.
In addition to the basic remedies available for maintenance, cure, and unearned wages, an injured seaman or fishermen may recover significant damages under the Jones Act and the general maritime doctrine of unseaworthiness, including the following:
- Lost past wages;
- Lost future wages;
- Past and Future medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of use of body parts;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Lost future earning capacity;
- Costs or re-education or retraining;
- 11.Lost fringe benefits;
- Lost pension benefits; and
- Lost vacation pay.