The maritime industry is central to both the economic and cultural growth of Louisiana. This means that lawmakers and the courts go to great lengths to protect the individuals who work hard in this industry. The Jones Act is one of these measures that goes toward protecting the rights and lives of mariners.
The Jones Act is a part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This set of laws ensures that maritime employees have safe work environments when they are working aboard vessels, whether they are on the coastline or on inland waters.
The Jones Act specifically allows ship workers to seek financial compensation if they get injured or contract an illness while aboard a vessel because of an employer’s negligence, or if the vessel was “unfit for the sea”.
Applying the Jones Act to a maritime injury case is restricted to certain members of the maritime workforce. Specifically, to be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, an employee must be characterized as a “seaman”. This means that the individual needs to spend a minimum of 30% of their working time aboard a vessel on navigable waters.
Additionally, the injured party must prove negligence on the part of their employer or on the part of the owner of the vessel. This typically means that the injured party must provide evidence that the defendant breached their duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work and provide reasonably safe tools and equipment. Therefore, if a seaman is injured on the job and the vessel is not seaworthy according to specified standards, they may be entitled to compensation. Other breaches of this duty include an understaffed vessel, ill-advised work methods, improperly trained crew members, and improperly maintained equipment.
Compensation under the Jones Act may vary on a case by case basis. In general, injured maritime workers may receive damages including but not limited to lost wages, pain and suffering, and maintenance and cure.
Maintenance damages refers to the cost of room and board that a maritime employee accrues because of their injury or illness. Employers are typically obligated to provide housing while a seaman is serving on a ship. Therefore, when an employee cannot work, they may accumulate additional expenses while they recover. Furthermore, cure refers to the medical expenses for their injury or illness, including transportation to and from a medical facility.
Collecting and presenting the necessary evidence within the statute of limitations can be difficult without the help of a knowledgeable maritime injury lawyer. If you or someone you know was injured while working aboard a ship, please reach out to Laborde Earles Law Firm for a consultation.