What Benefits are Available to an Injured Seaman Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act allows injured sailors to collect compensation and benefits for expenses and injuries that result from a maritime accident.
A lot of sailors that we work with do not know their rights with respect to recovering for the injuries or illnesses they receive at work upon the sea. They might confuse it with compensation that is available to other kinds of workers. For instance, land-based employees are entitled to workers' compensation and various kinds of statutory relief. However, sailors are entitled to different types of benefits and compensation. It is important to review exactly how and why they can recover.
Why Do Sailors Get Anything At All?
Sailors are entitled to compensation and benefits because federal law (The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) provides them a right of relief if they are injured while working aboard a vessel at sea.
The Jones Act allows seamen to recover for the losses and injuries they suffer while working on a vessel in passage. Generally, to gather compensation under this law, you must show that the crew's/captain's/ship owner's negligence injured you or that unseaworthy conditions of the vessel damaged you. Once you do, then you can collect for all of the resulting losses including the following:
- Past and future lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of normal life
To read more about Jones Act claims, click here.
What Benefits Can Sailors Get?
The Jones Act entitles injured sailors to benefits for all of the lost income and healthcare bills that an accident at sea causes them.
The comparable option to workers compensation for mariners is known as maintenance and cure benefits. It is important to note that these rights come from general maritime law and not from the Jones Act. Also, similar to workers' compensation, obtaining these benefits does not require a showing of fault. What do they entail? Well, with regard to cure benefits, this means that mariners can seek reimbursement for all healthcare bills (i.e. ambulance trips, ER visits, medications, etc.) that came as a result of working on the vessel. This is critical because these costs can be significant and it is imperative that injured seamen know that they can recover them. With respect to maintenance benefits, these normally refer to payments to account for the fact that the worker is no longer generating income due to incapacity. It should continue until he or she is completely healthy and it should not be arbitrarily capped. Typically, maintenance benefits cover things such as housing, food, transportation, and utilities.
What Compensation Can Sailors Get?
The Jones Act allows injured sailors to collect compensation for the total costs that the injury imposes upon them including tangible and intangible damages.
Seamen can also sue the wrongful party if they are injured. This does require a showing of fault but can open up a broader range of recovery options for the plaintiff. For instance, mariners can seek compensation for out-of-pocket expenses (like medical bills) and intangible injuries (like loss of normal life, disability, disfigurement, etc.) they sustain. However, like under workers' compensation, seamen suing under the Jones Act cannot pursue recovery for punitive damages, a category that typically tries to punish defendants for extremely wanton or egregious actions. Yet, it is still easy to see that seamen have a wide array of opportunities open to them if they are hurt. Hopefully, these mariners will work with an experienced attorney to fight for the compensation that they deserve if that is the case.
How Can An Attorney Help Me Get Compensation In A Jones Act Claim?
A Jones Act lawyer can be your full face during the lawsuit and engage in all correspondence, investigation, and argumentation.
After reviewing the different kinds of recovery that are available, it is critical that you understand how competent representation can help you. You need a qualified Jones Act attorney at your side throughout the entire dispute process, no matter what kind of compensation you are seeking. Lawyers can shoulder all of the investigation, communications, drafting, and the thousands of other things that need to be completed before, during, and after the controversy. Now, it is not enough that an attorney be experienced in litigation generally, he or she needs experience in this particular field of law in order to help you. If that is not the case, do not pick him or her because your recovery will be at risk. Mistakes can be made at nearly every point in the case-the complaint, discovery, motions, opening argument, direct and cross examination, closing argument-and only an attorney that is worked in maritime law before will be able to help you sufficiently.
What Are Examples Of Jones Act Compensation?
Examples of Jones Act compensation include expenses, suffering, and punitive damages.
One of the first things you might wonder prior to speaking with an attorney is for what can you recover? Your naval injury will probably be followed by a lot of bills, incredible pain, and a change in ability and circumstances. So it is intuitive to ponder what reimbursement you could receive. Here are the broad categories of relief that are available to you (from either a Jones Act claim or from general maritime law):
- Expenses: From travel between medical providers, to healthcare costs, even damaged personal property and lost wages, there are a lot of expenses that could be reimbursed to injured sailors.
- Suffering: Courts traditionally recognize long-term pain imposed due to accidents at sea as a cognizable claim for damages.
- Punitive: Unfortunately, courts have denied plaintiffs the ability to sue for punitive damages in the past. Punitive damages award claimants recovery when the defendant's conduct is regarded as seriously offensive. It is meant to discourage similar behavior and punish the offenders. See McBride v. Estis Well Service, LLC, 768 F.3d 382 (5th Cir. 2014).
Call Us So That You Get The Benefits That You Deserve!
You've seen what's out there. You've reviewed the wide range of benefits that are available to you if you are injured while working on a vessel at sea. Now, what are you waiting for? Call us today so that we can ensure you get all the compensation and recovery that you deserve. Our phone number is (888) 424-5757 but you can also email us. We take pride in representing injured mariners and we would be honored to work with you.
For additional information see the following pages:
- What Are Jones Act Injury Cases Worth?
- What Laws Govern Jones Act Cases?
- What Laws Govern Maritime Worker Injury Cases?
- What is the Process for Filing a Jones Act Injury Claim?
- What Should I Do If I'm Injured While Working On A Ship?
- How Long Do You Have To File a Lawsuit For Jones Act Injuries?
- What Type of Damages Are Recoverable Under Jones Act?
- Do I Need A Jones Act Attorney to Represent Me?