Who is Entitled to Compensation Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that provides compensation to injured workers who have been injured as a result of negligence by their employer or fellow employee. Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been handling Jones Act injury cases for over 30 years. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured Jones act seamen.
Beard and his partners at Trueb & Beard, LLC understand Jones Act cases. They know how Jones Act seamen are injured working aboard ships, tugs, barges and commercial fishing vessels. If you have been injured working as a crewman aboard a vessel, let them explain to you the rights you have to recover compensatory damages under Federal maritime laws.
The Jones Act is a Federal law passed by the United States Legislature in 1920. The Jones Act is designed to protect crewmen who work aboard vessels upon navigable waters. The Jones Act applies to injuries to vessel crewmen caused by the negligence of their employer. The Jones Act only applies to maritime workers who are classified as seaman. Fish processors working as crewmen aboard catcher processors, factory trawlers, and motherships are seamen. Multiple factors may be considered when determining whether or not a worker is a Jones Act seaman.
To be a seaman, the worker’s duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of the ship’s mission; the worker must have a connection to a vessel or to an identifiable group of vessels in navigation that is substantial in both its duration and its nature. A rough guideline that applies to determining seaman status is if a worker spends more than 30% of his time doing ship’s work, he may qualify to be a seaman. Federal maritime law gives a wide definition to what is a vessel.
For purposes of the Jones Act, a vessel is any sort of watercraft capable movement upon navigable waters. If it floats, it may be argued to be a vessel for purposes of the Jones Act. The vessel doesn’t need to be capable of moving under its own power to be a vessel. A vessel temporarily moored or anchored is still in navigation.
A worker injured on any type of vessel should consult with a qualified maritime injury lawyer to determine their proper legal status. In some injured worker cases there is a fine line between being a seaman as opposed to a Longshore harbor worker. Seamen who are working ashore doing seaman duties do not lose their status under the Jones Act. Longshoreman who are land-based workers with no substantial connection to any given vessel are not usually Jones Act seamen, even though they may be injured aboard a vessel.
The Jones Act is a fault based system. To recover under the Jones Act, an injured seaman must establish that he was injured as a result of his employer’s negligence or the negligence of a fellow crewman. An injured seaman is entitled to claim damages under the Jones Act for pain and suffering, lost past and future wages, lost wage earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, vocational retraining costs, and more. Preexisting medical conditions and comparative fault do not bar a seaman’s claim for damages under the Jones Act. Proving negligence under the Jones Act requires only a slight connection between the negligence and the crewman’s injury.
Injured seamen also have the right under Federal maritime law to make claims for maintenance and cure benefits. The maintenance and cure doctrine is a no fault system that works together with the Jones Act to require an employer to pay an injured seaman’s reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to a shipboard injury or illness. Under the maintenance and cure doctrine, a seaman is also entitled to payment of a daily living allowance while he is recovering from his injuries.
If you have been injured working at sea, don’t guess about your legal rights to compensation. Call an experienced maritime injury firm to learn about your rights to compensation under the Jones Act. Call Beard and his partners at Trueb & Beard, LLC at 1-800-621-1091.