Is a seaman’s injury or death was caused by negligence of the seaman’s employer or his fellow employees, he may recover under the Jones Act, 46 U.S. C. App. § 668, a seaman can recover directly from his employer, damages including past and future loss of wages, medical expenses not paid by the employer, pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of activities or normal life.
In order to be covered by the Jones Act, the worker must be classified as a “seaman.” Seaman status has the following requirements: (1) the vessel must not have been removed from navigation; (2) the person has employment with the vessel or fleet of vessels that is substantial both in terms of duration and its nature; (3) the persons work contributes to the work of the vessel.
Common examples of acts of negligence under the Jones Act include:
- breach of duty to protect foreseeable injury
- failure to provide and maintain reasonably safe equipment and appliances
- failure to provide adequate safety measures
- failure to exercise due case in selecting competent master and crew
- negligent hiring
- assault by fellow crew member
- dangerous or unsafe work or manner of work
- negligent orders; requiring excessive overtime
- failure to avoid dangerous weather
- inadequate supervision
- inadequate instruction as to safety matters
- failure to warn of a known hazard
- appointing inexperienced crew member to operate equipment
- failure to consider a seaman’s physical limitations in assigning duties
- failure to provide safety gear or follow safety rules
- failure to make available appropriate medical care
Damages recoverable under the Jones Act are as follows: (1) past and future loss of wage earning capacity; (2) loss of enjoyment of life; (3) past and future medical expenses; (4) pain and suffering; and (5) mental anguish.
Future loss of wage earning capacity is determined by work life expectancy times projected annual earnings, less taxes and personal consumption and discounted to the present value. It is important that injured workers hire a lawyer that understands how these damages are calculated. We not only understand these calculations, but we have relationships with top economics experts who are authorities in calculation of loss of wage earning capacity.
Jones Act – Wrongful Death
Maritime rights and remedies for wrongful death are complicated by overlapping of partial-coverage statutes. In cases of death, the seaman’s personal representative can recover for certain close relatives of the deceased their pecuniary losses, plus compensation for the seaman’s conscious pain and suffering. The Jones Act applies only to deaths of seaman. The Death on the High Seas Act applies only to deaths occurring outside the territorial waters of the adjacent state. The general maritime law covers wrongful deaths only for non seamen whose deaths are caused by an event occurring within territorial waters.
Under the Jones Act, a seaman has the choice of having his case heard before a judge or a jury.
In many Jones Act cases, a claim for unseaworthiness can also be brought by an injured worker. Owners and operators of vessels have an absolute duty to provide a vessel and appurtenances reasonably fit for their intended use. If a worker is injured due to an unseaworthy condition of the vessel, the worker is entitled to compensation. An owner of the vessel does not have to have prior knowledge of the defective condition. Common examples of unseaworthy conditions arise from defective equipment, an improperly maintained vessel, or an insufficient crew to perform the work at hand. Knowledgeable maritime law attorneys understand that in order to protect their client’s legal rights, it is extremely important investigate maritime accidents and determine the cause in order to bring an unseaworthy claim in addition to a claim under the Jones Act.
Maintenance and Cure Benefits
The employer owes maintenance and cure benefits if the seaman suffers an illness while working in the service of the ship. Maintenance and cure benefits are due to an injured seaman regardless of negligence. However, in most Jones Act injury cases, the injured seaman will also be entitled to immediate payment of maintenance and cure benefits. Maintenance and cure benefits afford the injured seaman some money compensation and payment of medical expenses while they are recovering from injuries sustained while in the service of the vessel.
Talk to a lawyer today
No matter where you live, our Jones Act lawyers at Brian White law firm can give you the immediate help you need. There is no obligation and the initial phone call is free of charge. Call us today, toll free at (877) 551-3212.