The Jones Act is a law enacted by Congress that provides protection to persons who are members of the crew of a ship or vessel. The Jones Act applies to inland river workers as well as offshore workers who work on a jackup rig, semi-submersible ship or rig, barge, drill ship, tug / towboat, crew boat, drill ship, dredge, floating crane, tanker, cargo ship, fishing vessel, chemical ship, research vessel, construction barge, lay barge, motorized platform, diving vessel, cruise ship, recreational boat or other floating / movable structures. The Jones Act 46 U.S.C. 688 (1970)
Maintenance and Cure
Under the Jones Act, if you are injured or become ill while serving on a ship, your employer or ship owner is obligated to pay maintenance and cure, regardless of whether your employer is at fault. Maintenance is a daily rate that is designed to replace the living benefits you have while on the vessel, such as food, lodging and utilities. There is no standard maintenance rate; the amount paid to each individual varies.
Cure is your employer’s or vessel owner’s obligation to pay your medical expenses associated with the injury or illness. The seaman's right to get maintenance and cure continues until the seaman reaches a point of maximum medical improvement, meaning that his doctor thinks that he is as recovered as he is going to get, regardless of whether he is able to return to work.
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Who is a Seaman?
The Jones Act defines a seaman as one who works as a crew member of a vessel on rivers, offshore waters, or oceans. Offshore vessels include drill ships, jack-ups, floating barges, diving vessels, cruise ships, tankers, cargo ships, fishing boats, and other work related water worthy crafts.
Maritime Law states that a vessel owner has a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel (one fit to work and live). The vessel should also be outfitted with the proper safety gear and have a competent crew. If the owner of a vessel fails to provide such a vessel then a seaman can bring a claim of unseaworthiness.
Unseaworthiness of a vessel includes but is not limited to unsafe conditions existing on the vessel and its equipment, dangerous conditions arising during the voyage or created by employees or independent contractors. An unseaworthiness claim will bring the owner into a lawsuit as an additional source of recovery for the seaman. A claim for unseaworthiness must be filed within three years of the injury, and must be combined with a Jones Act claim.
Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides for compensation and medical care to employees disabled from injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the U.S., or in adjoining areas used in loading, unloading, repairing or building a vessel. The Act also offers benefits to dependents if the injury causes the employee's death. The term "injury" includes occupational disease arising out of employment.
The Act covers workers employed in maritime occupations, including longshore workers or other persons in longshore operations, and any harbor workers, including ship repairers, and shipbuilders.
If you or someone you know has been hurt from the negligence of another call Giddens & Burns today for your free case evaluation.