The Department of Labor says that the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) does not cover seamen on ships, barges, fishing boats, dredges, barges, and other vessels on U.S. navigable waters. If you work in one of those categories and get hurt on the job, you will need Jones Act coverage to pursue compensation for your injuries.
The LHWCA protects people in maritime occupations like shipbuilders and harbor construction workers whose tasks take place on navigable waters and the surrounding areas, like docks, piers, and harbors. The LHWCA can also cover specific non-maritime workers who get injured while on navigable water or qualifying adjacent areas while performing their work duties.
People tend to think of seamen as the people who navigate the ship and keep it moving, but other workers can qualify as seamen for purposes of Jones Act protections. For example, a fisherman or a worker who processes the fish on the boat is a seaman under the Jones Act as long as he is connected to that vessel or an identifiable fleet of vessels in navigation for the long-term as opposed to temporarily.
Remedies Available Under the Jones Act
The Office of Administrative Law Judges within the Department of Labor created a resource that explains aspects of the Jones Act and the LHWCA. If a seaman gets injured due to the employer’s negligence, the injured worker can file a lawsuit against the employer in civil court and get a jury trial, if requested.
The plaintiff can sue his boss either in state or federal court. The employer cannot remove a case filed in state court and get it transferred to federal court. Another option under the Jones Act is suing under federal admiralty jurisdiction.
For a free legal consultation, call (337) 777-7777
Damages the Jones Act Provides
A successful claim under the Jones Act can lead to recovery by the plaintiff of 100 percent of his economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Medical expenses for the treatment of his injuries.
- Past lost wages for the unpaid time that he could not work because of his injuries.
- Future wage loss if he will not be able to perform his job functions in the future and will have to seek a lower-paying job, work fewer hours, or be unable to work at all because of his injuries.
- General damages for pain and suffering, which can include both the physical discomfort and emotional or psychological distress of his injuries and related issues.
The amount of these damages will depend on the facts of the claim.
General Maritime Law Remedies for Injuries
Because a Jones Act plaintiff has seaman status, he can also seek compensation under general maritime law for:
As the American Bar Association explains, general maritime law requires the owners and operators of vessels to provide seaworthy vessels. The owner and operator cannot escape liability by delegating this duty to someone else.
The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School says that the employer must pay maintenance and cure damages to seamen who get injured while at sea. Maintenance refers to the room, board, and other daily living expenses of the seaman until the end of the journey, or the worker is able to resume his duties. Cure means the seaman’s medical bills.
Under traditional maritime law, an employer must pay maintenance and cure until the worker recovers from his injuries enough that he can return to duty, or until he reaches his maximum recuperation and would not benefit from additional medical intervention.
If unsafe conditions (unseaworthiness) on the ship caused a seaman to get injured, the individual can go after the owner of the vessel for monetary compensation. Unsafe conditions can include things like defectively designed or maintained equipment, tools, or the vessel itself. Also, problems with the crew or conditions under which the seaman must perform his duties can lead to claims for damages for unseaworthiness.
Situations that can lead to a claim of unseaworthiness include things like:
- Insufficient safety procedures
- Inadequate training
- Excessive work hours
- Equipment with unacceptable wear and tear
- Slipping and tripping hazards
Many other unsafe conditions onboard the vessel could be evidence of unseaworthiness and subject the owner to liability.
Contact Our Office Today to Learn More About Jones Act Claims
We understand that it can be confusing to try to figure out who needs Jones Act coverage, but do not worry. You will not have to go to law school to go forward with your claim. A maritime injury lawyer at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers can handle your claim so that you can focus on your health and wellness.
We work tirelessly to get our clients every penny they deserve for their maritime injuries. We will treat you with respect and dignity. You will not feel like a number with us.
You can call us today at (337) 777-7777 for a no-cost consultation. There is no obligation.