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What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is federal legislation that protects seamen, crew members and other workers injured at sea; on docks, ferries, boats or working in other similar jobs. Maritime injury lawsuits are always filed under the Jones Act; a Jones Act lawsuit is a personal injury lawsuit.
Do I qualify as a seaman or crew member under the Jones Act?
For some workers such as offshore drillers and crew members on river crane barges it is not obvious whether they would qualify as seaman or crew member under the Jones Act. If you are unsure, contact a maritime accident attorney; qualifying as a Jones Act seaman or crew member can greatly increase the employee’s rights to recover damages for a maritime work related injury.
To qualify as a seaman or crew member under the Jones act the worker must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Have a significant association with a fleet or vessel measured by both the duration and type of connection
- Be employed on vessel “in navigation”
- Contribute to the vessel’s function or mission
How can the Jones Act help a seaman/crew member recover damages?
Jones Act seamen injured on the job are entitled to sue their employers for damages and maintenance and cure benefits when their employer’s negligence was responsible for the injury.
What kinds of damages can I recover as a Jones Act seaman?
Damages usually covered in maritime injury cases are:
- Maintenance and cure benefits
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death benefits
- Reimbursement for past, present and future medical care related to the injury
What are maintenance and cure benefits?
Maintenance and cure benefits are available to almost all seamen injured on the job. Maintenance benefits are meant to cover wages through the end of the seaman’s employment contract and a living allowance until the seaman has returned to a basic level of health. Cure benefits cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with the injury.
I have been hurt on my employer’s vessel, what steps should I take?
Step 1. Choose a doctor and seek appropriate medical care (do not use a doctor chosen by your employer).
Step 2. Write an incident report from your point of view; never sign the one typed up for you by the company safety officer.
Step 3. Take pictures of the damage done by the accident and collect contact information for witnesses.
Step 4. Contact a maritime injury lawyer as soon as possible; he or she will review the details of your case and help you fight for damages and maintenance and cure benefits. Never return to work before you are physically ready or downplay your injuries!