Jones Act Provides Broad Protections for Injured Seamen

By August 26, 2011Personal Injury

The Jones Act is a federal statute that governs a range of maritime activities. Enacted almost a century ago, the Jones Act is still an essential cornerstone of maritime law.

Setting forth the rights of seamen is one significant purpose of the Jones Act. Employees of barge lines and other maritime companies who suffer injury, illness, or death while in service to a vessel are afforded certain legal safeguards under the Jones Act.

Jones Act Negligence Coverage

Jones Act protections only apply to seamen who are attached to a specific ship or fleet and whose work contributes to the purpose of their respective vessel or fleet. Court decisions have found crewmembers who spend at least a third of their time on a vessel operating in navigable waters qualify as Jones Act seamen.

The Jones Act allows seamen injured in the course of employment to bring a legal claim against their employers for personal injury; when a seaman is killed, personal representatives may bring a claim.

Damages may be awarded against an employer for injuries arising out of negligent acts of officers or other shipmates, or for deficiencies in equipment. Deckhands, mates and other workers also may recover damages from the owner of the vessel (which may or may not be their employer) if the vessel is unseaworthy. Jones Act attorneys at Gray, Ritter & Graham can explain these important, highly technical concepts.Even absent negligence, if injured in service to a vessel, seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure (a small daily wage and the costs of medical treatment during the recovery period). A company’s failure to provide maintenance and cure is actionable under the Jones Act.

Negligence Damages

The Jones Act has been applied broadly to compensate negligently injured seamen for wages lost due to an inability to work, medical expenses, and other related damages. Families of deceased seaman may recover the reasonable monetary benefits they would have received from the continued life of their loved one under the Jones Act.

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