Jones Act Benefits Explained

Jones Act Benefits Explained

Under the Jones Act seamen who are injured or become ill in the scope of their employment are entitled to receive certain benefits from their employers.

These benefits typically include:

  • Maintenance and Cure Payments
  • Personal Injury Damages
  • Unearned Wages
  • Pain & Suffering (Past and Future)
  • Lost Wages (Past and Future)

Maintenance and Cure Payments

If you are a seaman who has been injured on a ship or vessel in the course of your employment, you have the right to receive maintenance and cure benefits from your employer. These benefits are absolute, meaning you are entitled to receive them regardless of who was at fault for your injuries.

Maintenance benefits are payments your employer must provide you with to cover what it would cost for you to live on land in the same manner that you lived offshore on your vessel. Cure benefits are compensation to the cover the cost of reasonable medical care related to your injuries or illness. You are entitled to receive these benefits until you reach “maximum medical cure” – the point in time where your condition will not get any better even if you receive additional medical care.

In most situations an employer will try to keep your maintenance payments very low, generally about $15-$40 per day. Recognizing this is a very small amount of money to live on our firm may be able to help. We may be able to get you an increase in your daily benefit and possibly a cash advance from your employer, against any future settlements in your case. When you are injured your employer may also try to force you to seek medical care from a company physician.

It is very important to know that you have the right to use your own personal physician to treat your illness or injuries. If your employer is challenging your choice of doctor or refusing to send you to a specialist, our firm will intervene to help ensure that you get the care you need.

Damages for Personal Injuries

When a seaman is injured by the negligent actions of an employer or fellow crewmembers, the seaman is entitled to file a lawsuit to recover damages from his or her employer. For instance, if you are a worker who was injured as a result of a dangerous or unsafe condition on your vessel, such as a slippery deck or a broken or defective piece of equipment, you may be able to sue your employer for negligence and receive financial compensation or your injuries. Under the Jones Act, the burden of proof for a negligence case is very low. This means that almost any unsafe condition that played a part in your injuries, no matter how small, can result in your employer being held liable for your injuries. In a Jones Act negligence case, the victim is generally entitled to recover damages similar to those in a general personal injury lawsuit, including:

  • Past and future medical care and treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Past and future mental anguish
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Unearned Wages

An injured seaman has the legal right to receive unearned wages from his or her employer. The right to receive these wages is absolute, meaning that your employer must pay these wages to you regardless of who is at fault for your injury or illness. You are entitled to receive the wages from the time of your accident or the onset of your illness up until the completion of the voyage.

While many employers are honest and will pay you all of the wages you are due, some employers may try limit the amount of your unearned wages by claiming that the voyage was shorter in length than it actually was. In these situations, a skilled maritime lawyer can help. Willis Law Firm has decades of experience going after employers who try to limit the amount of unearned wages owed to injured seaman.

We Can Help You Get the Benefits You Deserve

If your employer is delaying your payments or refusing to provide you with the benefits you are legally entitled to under the Jones Act, Willis Law Firm can help. Call us today for a free confidential consultation at 1-800-468-4878.

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