One of the most important laws protecting the rights of crewmen (deckhands, mates, pilots, captains, engineers, oilers, cooks, etc.) is a federal law called the Jones Act. If you are an injured crewman, you may have a Jones Act claim if you can prove that the vessel's owners, operators, officers, or fellow employees were negligent or at fault, or if you can prove that you were injured because of a defect in the vessel, its gear, tackle, or equipment.
But knowing you have a legal claim is one thing. Understanding how you and your family will make ends meet after an injury is another. And the answer to that question depends on what kind of damages you can recover under the Jones Act and maritime law.
Damages Covered Under the Jones Act
Depending on the facts of your case, you could be able to recover the following types of damages from your vessel's operator or your employer:
- Lost wages: Your employer may be responsible for paying lost wages from the time the injury occurred as well as earnings lost during your recovery.
- Lost benefits: You may be able to obtain the value of your lost benefits.
- Lost future earning capacity: Your employer may also be responsible for future wages that will be lost if you can't return to work. There are many factors that determine your future earning capacity like your age and estimated working life expectancy.
- Medical bills: In addition to routine medical expenses (like emergency services, hospitalization, medication, and surgery), your employer may be required to pay for physical and occupational therapy, psychological counseling, specialized medical equipment, or nursing care, depending on your situation.
- Future medical care: Your employer may be responsible for not just immediate treatment, but also for future medical costs.
- Pain and suffering: Finally, the Jones Act allows crewmen to recover for pain and suffering. That means you can recover damages both for the injuries you suffered as well as for the mental anguish caused by those injuries.
Maintenance and Cure Payments
You may also be entitled to what is known as "maintenance and cure” compensation in weekly or bi-weekly payments. Maintenance pertains to room and board of the injured seaman while recovering from the injury at home. Expenses such as the seaman’s rent or mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and food are commonly covered. Cure pertains to the injured seaman's medical expenses, along with the cost of transportation for getting to and from his/her necessary medical treatment. Just like an injured land-based employee who receives workers’ compensation benefits, an injured seaman should not have to pay anything toward his/her medical treatment for the work-related injury.
To maximize the amount you recover, you will need experienced and qualified lawyers like the lawyers at Wilkins Schneller Law. The lawyers at Wilkins Schneller Law obtained $35 million in damages, in one of the largest Jones Act and maritime law judgments of all time. If you or a loved one has been injured on a vessel, call our office for a free consultation.