Injured? Maritime Legislation Protects You
If you have been hurt working aboard a ship or vessel it is important to know that there are many different laws that protect injured maritime employees. An experienced admiralty or maritime lawyer at our firm can explain the laws and work with you to develop a case aimed at securing the best financial recovery possible for you and your family members.
The Jones Act – Merchant Marine Act of 1920
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal statute designed to support and promote the American Merchant Marine while also providing important protections to sailors and crew members who are injured in the course of their employment. Prior to the passage of the Act, seamen who were injured, became sick, or died at sea had little if any recourse because they were not able to hold their employers accountable for work-related accidents and injuries. With the passage of the Jones Act, injured seamen gained important legal rights. They are now able to file a negligence lawsuit against their maritime employers for work-related injuries.
Unlike the traditional worker’s compensation system, under the Jones Act seamen are permitted to sue their employers for damages when they are injured by their employer’s negligence or the negligence of a co-worker. Recognizing the dangers of working on the water, the Jones Act provides extra protection to vulnerable crew members and other maritime employees. Under the Act, an employer can be held liable for virtually any dangerous or unsafe condition on a vessel. Any amount of negligence on the part of the employer, no matter how minor it may be, can support an injured seaman’s claim for damages in a Jones Act negligence suit. This means that if you are injured and file a Jones Act suit, your burden of proof will be far lower than what is required in an ordinary negligence lawsuit. You only need to prove that your employer’s negligence played a role in your accident in order to recover damages, rather than proving that your employer’s actions were the primary cause of your injuries.
Jones Act – Maintenance and Cure
In addition to filing a negligence lawsuit against an employer, injured seamen are also entitled to collect maintenance and cure benefits from their employers. Maintenance and cure benefits are similar to worker’s compensation benefits, in that the injured seaman is entitled to receive these payments regardless of who may be at fault for the seaman’s injury. If you are an injured seaman your employer will be required to make payments to you cover the cost of living on land in the same manner that you lived on your vessel. Your employer will also be responsible for covering the costs of reasonable medical care and treatment related to your injury or illness. It is important to know that employers will often try to keep maintenance payments as low as possible, sometimes less than $25 per day. In many cases, an admiralty attorney at our firm may be able to help you obtain a higher daily benefit along with a possible cash advance against any future settlements in your case.
Additional Legislation that May Protect You
If you have been hurt while working on or near the water, it is important to know that many other laws in addition to the Jones Act provide employees with the legal rights and protections they need to recover from their injuries. For example, in some cases an injured employee may not be classified as a “seaman” under the Jones Act but may fall under the protections of other maritime acts, such as the Longshore Harbor and Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
When you are injured it can be difficult to figure out which laws and legislation apply to your situation, so it is important to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney who is familiar with maritime legislation. The Willis Law Firm has over three decades of experience helping injured maritime workers. When you schedule a free consultation with our firm we will thoroughly review your case so that we can identify all laws that are applicable to your situation. Contact us today at 1-800-468-4878.