If you suffer a catastrophic injury while working on a ship, loading dock or marine setting, the federal Jones Act may cover your medical bills and other costs. This law mandates compensation for workplace injuries regardless of fault as well as coverage for negligent acts by your employer.
Review the guidelines of the Jones Act if you or a family member had a debilitating work injury as a maritime employee on a ship, barge or another vessel.
Qualifying as a seaman
While the Jones Act refers to seamen, it does not define that term in detail. Generally, federal courts consider someone a seaman for Jones Act purposes if he or she spends at least 30% of work time on board a sea vessel that travels on interstate or international waters. If you meet this standard, you can perform any type of work as long as it contributes to the ship’s purpose.
Understanding available benefits
Regardless of how the injury occurred, if your job qualifies you for Jones Act coverage you can receive maintenance and cure. This award covers your expenses while you recover from this type of work injury as well as your medical expenses.
You can ask for additional compensation when the injury occurred because of an unseaworthy vessel, which does not necessarily require negligence. You must prove that you do not have a safe, suitable workspace, even if the vessel is technically seaworthy.
Finally, the court may award negligence compensation under the Jones Act when lack of care by your employer contributed to the injury. Examples include broken equipment, lack of training or unsafe premises.