Understanding the Jones Act

For those who work in the maritime industry, you’ve likely heard of the Jones Act. Passed in 1920 while the United States was recovering from World War I, it serves to protect seamen, offshore oil rig workers, and shipping industry employees when they’ve been injured at sea. If you’ve suffered from a maritime injury, you may be entitled to compensation under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

Working in the maritime industry can be a high-risk job. You deal with large equipment, the unruliness of the sea, and heavy leads daily. If you’re injured far out at sea, a sea injury can become more serious if you don’t get medical attention right away.

If you’ve been injured as a maritime worker on the job, you don’t need to pay for your medical costs. This guide will go over the Jones Act, how it can help you, and where you can find a personal injury attorney to help you with your claim.

What is the Jones Act?

Other maritime laws govern sea-related injuries, but the Jones Act is the most common way injured seamen recover damages. It protects in several different ways:

  • All shipowners need to provide a secure and safe seaworthy vessel for their crew members to work and live on
  • Equipment, onboard machinery, and structural components need to be kept in working order and maintained
  • There needs to be safety procedures and policies on the ship to protect crew members and works

If a vessel worked gets injured while on the ship, the Jones Act ensures that they receive maintenance and cure benefits.

What Are Maintenance and Cure Benefits?

Maintenance and cure are the types of benefits an injured maritime worker receives from their employer while they’re recovering. They’re entitled to receive them no matter who was at fault for their injury.

Maintenance refers to the injured seamen’s room and board while they recover at home. This concept originates from an employer’s obligation to provide their workers with room and board while they’re on their vessel.

Maintenance benefits can include expenses such as:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Food

It doesn’t include other expenses like car payments, telephone, internet, or cable. Maintenance only refers to necessary household expenses.

Cure refers to the injured worker’s necessary and reasonable medical expenses. This also includes their cost of transportation to get to their medical appointments.

An injured worker can receive maintenance and cure benefits until they’ve reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). That is typically when they’ve recovered enough, and their doctor has discharged them. They may not have fully recovered from their injury, but they’re not expected to show any additional improvements.

Most organizations pay between $15.00 to $30.00 each day for maintenance. There are no specifications in the law for how much this amount should be. Usually, the company selects the amount and argues that it’s been paid for a long time to the injured worker.

This is where a maritime lawyer comes in. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for sustaining injuries on the job.

How the Jones Act Can Help You

A Jones Act claim handles on-the-job injuries of maritime workers, but it is usually a much larger case than a typical workers’ compensation claim. Claims filed under workers’ compensation typically cover a person’s base medical care.

A Jones Act settlement can include compensation for the following items:

  • Loss of wages
  • Suffering, disfigurement, and physical pain
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Mental anguish
  • Medical care (cure)
  • Cost of living during recovery (maintenance)

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers can file a lawsuit after developing an illness or suffering an injury while they worked on a vessel. You can seek compensation for an illness or injury resulting from the negligence of another employee, vessel operator, or vessel owner.

In addition to the requirements outlined above by the Jones Act, seamen also have the following rights:

  • The right to file a lawsuit if they become injured or fall ill due to negligence
  • The right to a safe work environment
  • The right to maintenance and cure benefits
  • The right to more compensation if the crew or vessel is determined to be unseaworthy
  • The right to punitive damages if their employer refused to pay maintenance and cure

Unfortunately, an injured or ill maritime worker sometimes doesn’t return home after their journey. Families can seek compensation under the Jones Act.

The Process of a Jones Act Claim

The Jones Act was founded to encourage vessel operators and owners to maintain a safe and secure work environment for their employees. It also was designed to help injured maritime workers get back on their feet. If hazardous or negligent working conditions could result in a company having to pay out a large amount of money, it would make them more apt to keep their working environments safe.

It’s always good to have an advocate on your side when you’re seeking financial compensation for an injury. You need to focus on healing and recovering. Let a maritime personal injury lawyer argue on your behalf.

The claims process for a Jones Act case follows this type of timeline:

  • The injured worker reports their injury to their captain or supervisor
  • The company asks for an accident report
  • The injured worker receives medical treatment
  • The victim hires a personal injury lawyer
  • Both parties settle the case or proceed to file a suit

An experienced lawyer will be well versed in the intricacies of the Jones Act. They’ll argue effectively on your behalf, ensuring you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.

Contact Roberts Markland LLP for Your Jones Act Claim

Suppose you’re a maritime worker that’s been injured while on the job; you have the right to seek financial compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act, while over 100 years old, was established to help maritime workers.

Contact our office today to make an appointment.