Do I Need a Jones Act or Maritime Attorney?

When you are injured on the job, suddenly you and your employer may cease having mutually-beneficial goals. You want the best possible medical care for your injuries. Your employer wants you back on the job with minimal downtime and expense. While in some situations things can be worked out without an attorney, maritime injuries are not usually those situations.

If you are a maritime worker injured while working and in need of an attorney, things can get a bit confusing due to the complex laws that govern maritime workers. It may be difficult to know whether to hire a Jones Act lawyer or a Maritime lawyer. We hope to clear things up a bit here.

Maritime Law Basics

This Act is part of maritime law. However, this set of laws protects a limited set of maritime workers and is not the only piece of maritime law out there. Other maritime laws exist, including:

  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) – provides wage reimbursement (2/3 percent of weekly wages), loss of earning capacity due to permanent disability, or 50% of pay to widows. These benefits are available to employees injured while working on navigable waters, or adjoining areas to load and unloading cargo from vessels, repair ships, or perform work on decks and piers.
  • The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA) – compensates surviving family members for deaths that occur more than three miles offshore. These benefits are designed to make surviving family members whole as if the person had not died. Compensation may include pain and suffering, lost wages and loss of domestic services.
  • Passenger Personal Injury – maritime law, entitles passengers who are injured on boats to sue the ship owner for negligence if the injury is caused by the negligence of the owner or crew.
  • Maintenance and Cure – any injured seaman is entitled to these benefits regardless of whether the injuries are caused by someone else’s negligence. These benefits cover reasonable costs of living and medical expenses while you are healing.

Jones Act Protections

The Jones Act protects a very specific subset of maritime workers. You must spend at least thirty percent of their time working in the service of a commercial vessel’s mission. The commercial vessel must be made and/or flagged in the U.S. and must be capable of operating in commercially navigable waters. If you are hurt on the job, you have the right to:

  • Maintenance and cure benefits – covers your reasonable costs of living and medical expenses while you are recovering.
  • Lost Wages – covers your wages from the time you are injured to the time you return to port.
  • File a Negligence Lawsuit – if your injuries are caused by someone’s negligence, regardless of how slight, you may be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering, past, and future lost wages, mental anguish, past and future medical bills and loss of enjoyment of life.

If you are harmed while working in a maritime environment, you have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. Most maritime attorneys handle claims and can ensure you get the care and compensation that you deserve.

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