Who is Entitled to Bring a Wrongful Death Action Under the Jones Act?
Seamen and other maritime crew take on considerable risks in their job. In the tragic event of a wrongful death there are protections provided under the Jones Act. The person considered the personal representative of a seaman / crew member who died on shore or within three nautical miles from shore, may bring a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act. This representative is typically representing the surviving widow or husband and children. In the absence of these relationships then the employee’s parents, siblings, or others dependent on the seaman may be represented.
A Break Down of Jones Act Beneficiaries
A wife or husband who was married to the decedent at the time of death is the most common beneficiary. Common law spouses are typically qualified beneficiaries as long as their common law marriage complies with the applicable state law. Divorced spouses are not deemed to be beneficiates.
Biological and stepchildren who have suffered financial losses due to the death of their parent can be beneficiaries.
Dependent parents are considered beneficiaries but non-dependent parents are not.
Siblings who are dependent on the decedent may be deemed dependents by the court.
Is there a Statute of Limitation on a Wrongful Death Jones Act Claim?
Yes. Like many other personal injury and wrongful death claims, a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act must be filed within three years of the date of death.
What Types Of Damages Are Recoverable Under a Jones Act Wrongful Death / Survival Claim?
Under the Jones Act, beneficiaries may be entitled to both wrongful death and survival remedies. This means that the following damages may be available:
Financial Support and Contribution
The financial contributions that the decedent would have made to his spouse and dependents over the course of his/her work life expectancy less any amount determined to be for the care and maintenance of the decedent personally.
Lost Past & Future Wages
Compensation for past and future wages lost over the course of work life expectancy.
Loss of Services
The Loss of Services compensation represents the monetary value of tasks that the deceased would have provided to his beneficiaries around the home.
Nurture to Dependent Children
Nurture to Dependent Children is the monetary value of care, guidance, and training that would have been provided to the decedent’s children.
Funeral expenses are allowed up to the amount actually paid by the beneficiaries.
Pre-Death Pain & Suffering
Pre-death pain and suffering is the monitory value of the conscious pain and suffering, caused by the negligent act, that the decedent felt prior to his death.
Pre-Death Medical Expenses
Pre-death medical expenses are meant to cover out of pocket expenses paid toward the decedent’s medical expenses.
The Following Types of Damages are not Recoverable under Jones Act Wrongful Death / Survival Claims:
A wrongful death Jones Act claim is limited to pecuniary loses and the following are not recoverable:
- Loss of Society and Consortium
- The Decedent’s Loss Future Earnings
- Punitive Damages
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