Is a Seaman Entitled to Recover Damages from a Maritime Accident?
Yes, a seaman may be entitled to recover damages if he is injured in a maritime accident. The Jones Act specifically allows for a seaman to recover for injuries suffered during the course of his employment while at sea. The family of a seaman who is killed while he is employed at sea may also be eligible to file a wrongful death suit under the Jones Act. Whether the injured party is able to recover will depend upon the actions of the people who control the ship and the circumstances of the case.
How is a “Seaman” Defined in the Jones Act?
Although a “seaman” is defined broadly, not every person who works on a ship or by the ocean qualifies. Note that only employees that can prove that they are a “seaman” can receive the benefits allotted under the Jones Act. To qualify as a seaman, an injured party must prove that they were an employee who faced regular exposure to the threats of the sea and his duties must have contributed to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission. Additionally, the seaman’s role on the vessel must be during navigation and be substantial in nature.
This means that a worker who is normally land-based who gets injured while working temporarily on a vessel is not covered under the Jones Act. A seaman, however, would still be covered under the act for an injury that occurred on land if it was in accordance with the mission of the ship. For example, a worker who is injured while repairing a part of the ship needed to unload the ship’s cargo or release fishing net would be covered under the Jones Act.
In the end, the jury is left to decide whether a worker qualifies as a seaman but analysis is provided of the individual’s entire employment with the company.
What Damages Can a Seaman Collect under the Jones Act?
The exact value of Jones Act damages varies from case to case but they are traditionally awarded for employer negligence in the following categories:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of earnings capacity
Damages may be reduced by payments already made for Maintenance and Cure. Conversely, if an employer has failed to pay Maintenance and Cure then that may become cause for a claim under the Jones Act.
Contact an experienced Jones Act Attorney as soon as you or a loved one is injured. Remember that your employer’s interest is to protect their bottom line; not your health, wallet, or career. You will want a skilled attorney on your side.
If you or a loved one was injured due to the reckless/negligent behavior of another seaman or maritime employer, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced maritime injury attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a maritime accident lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing maritime accident attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing grieving family members in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!