If you work at sea on a boat, other seafaring vessel or in a profession that requires you to work in and around watercraft, you may not be covered by state or federal workers’ compensation laws. If you suffer an injury on the job, where do you turn for compensation for medical bills and other damages?
At Jay Trucks and Associates, we have been advocating for injured Michigan residents for more than three decades and have obtained hundreds of millions in compensation. Over attorneys have over 150 years of combined experience.
Our Clare marine accident lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your eligibility for filing a claim under The Jones Act. In addition to medical bills, you may also be able to pursue compensation for expenses like your monthly mortgage payment, utility bills and your other regular expenses.
There are no upfront fees for hiring us to represent you and your initial consultation is also free.
Jay Trucks & Associates: (800) 762-8623.
What is The Jones Act?
Seamen are excluded from workers’ compensation laws because they are covered under federal law by The Jones Act, which gives seamen a private right of action against their employers or coworkers (master, mate, engineer, pilot, etc.) after an on-the-job injury.
Unlike in a workers’ compensation claim, in a claim under The Jones Act you must prove the injury or loss resulted from:
- Willful misconduct
- Neglect or refusing to follow laws on safely navigating vessels
Workers’ compensation benefits are awarded for on-the-job injuries, regardless of whether negligence was involved. This is one reason Jones Act claims can be more complicated and why it is important to have qualified legal representation.
Can I File a Claim Under The Jones Act?
Our Clare marine accident lawyers need to determine if you are covered by The Jones Act and whether your injury resulted from negligence. If you schedule a free consultation with us, we can talk about the circumstances of your injury, whether you are covered under the law, and if you may have a valid case.
Who is Covered Under the Law?
Seamen spend a significant amount of time as a crewmember or captain of a vessel that is in navigation. Generally, a significant amount of time is at least 30 percent of your total employment time. You must also be contributing to the mission of the vessel. Most people on the vessel are contributing to the vessel’s mission. However, administrative staff who happen to be on the vessel at various times would be excluded from The Jones Act.
Most of the people who work aboard fishing boats, tugs, barges and dredges are covered by The Jones Act. Many of those who work on the following vessels may also be covered:
- Drill ships
- Cargo ships
- Oil tankers
- Jack-up rigs
- Diving support craft
- Charter boats
- Cruise ships
A vessel refers to nearly any type of boat or ship. In navigation means the vessel is in operation, afloat, capable of moving and on waters where travel is possible. That means the vessel could be stationary and not moving, provided the vessel has a motor or could be sailed. The vessel could even be sitting at a dock and tied up and you would qualify as a seamen. However, the vessel cannot be out of the water or in a drydock.
Navigable waters are those used for interstate or foreign commerce. This includes landlocked lakes, such as Lake Michigan and Lake Erie because they extend into another state. Landlocked lakes connected to another state through a river also qualify as navigable waters.
Your employer must create a reasonably safe environment for you and your coworkers. That means your employer must use ordinary care, which is a very strict legal standard. Many dangerous or unsafe conditions could expose your employer to liability if an injury were to occur:
- Grease or another slippery substance on the deck
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Lack of fire extinguishers
- Failing to create or implement evacuation procedures
- Lack of grip strips or handrails on ladders
- Failing to regularly conduct safety inspections
- Speeding, particularly in bad weather
- Failing to train crewmembers properly
- Failure to require crew members to follow safety protocols
- Not providing the equipment workers need to do their jobs correctly
Unlike personal injury lawsuits, you do not need to prove another’s negligence was the main cause of your injury. You simply need to show your employer’s negligence played some role, even a small one, in your accident and resulting injuries. Your employer may only be one percent at fault – you would still have grounds for a Jones Act claim.
Unsure if you may have a valid claim? Call today to set up your free consultation with a licensed Clare marine accident attorney. (800) 762-8623
Could the Ship Owner Be Held Responsible?
Possibly, if your attorney is able to establish the vessel was unseaworthy, under maritime law. A vessel is unseaworthy if it does not contain safe and appropriate appliances for workers to do their jobs and if the vessel is not a safe place to work.
You need to establish you were injured because of a condition that made the vessel unseaworthy. For instance, maybe the owner failed to repair a broken or malfunctioning piece of equipment, like a winch or engine component. The owner may have failed to add warning signs about fall risks or failed to install railings or safety ropes.
Our experienced attorneys are here to answer your questions after a work accident. No upfront fees.
Benefits Under The Jones Act
The Jones Act allows injured workers to pursue maintenance and cure for their injuries.
Cure refers to your reasonable and necessary medical bills. This also includes the cost of transportation to get medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary. Essentially, all your medical care should be covered, and you should not need to spend money out of your own pocket. Your employer should pay your bills directly.
Maintenance covers living expenses while you are in recovery. For example, this may include the cost of:
- Mortgage payment
- Insurance on your home
- Property taxes
Essentially, all the necessary expenses for running your house should be covered. Unfortunately, maintenance excludes car payments and the cost of gas for your vehicle.
For a long time, employers would provide a very small amount of daily compensation, no matter the employee’s living expenses. However, that has changed and courts have clarified that employers must pay for the full cost of necessary living expenses.
Maintenance and cure benefits are paid out until you reach maximum medical improvement – the point when healing stops and you have made the fullest recovery you are likely to make.
There is limited time to file a claim for these benefits, so call to set up a free consultation with a Clare marine accident attorney today.
Have Some Questions? Call (800) 762-8623.
Maritime Employees Who May Not be Covered by The Jones Act?
Administrative workers, harbor workers and guests are generally not covered by The Jones Act. People who work on the harbor and are rarely on a vessel in navigable waters may be covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
This federal law allows longshore and harbor workers to pursue workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury. The law applies to workers in many occupations that take place on navigable waters at wharves, docks, piers, terminals and places where vessels are loaded and unloaded, including:
- Harbor construction workers
- Ship repairmen
- Ship breakers
- Workers who transport goods from a ship, such as those who drive trucks transporting goods
The LHWCA specifically excludes many workers from coverage, such as:
- Aquaculture workers
- Workers at restaurants, museums, clubs or camps
- Administrative or clerical workers (secretaries, data processing workers or security personnel)
- Those who work for suppliers or vendors who do work normally done by another company
- Employees involved in building a ship less than 65 feet long
- Workers unloading vessels that weigh less than 18 tons
- Those covered by Michigan workers’ compensation laws
- Those covered by The Jones Act
- Employers who suffered injuries because they were intoxicated
The LHWCA covers accidental injuries or deaths that arise in the course of employment. The act also covers diseases or infections that arise naturally out of employment. You may also pursue compensation for an injury caused by the willful actions of a third party.
Compensation for LHWCA Claims
The LHWCA provides workers’ compensation benefits, including partial and total disability benefits, coverage for medical costs and vocational rehabilitation to help you work in another field or another type of position because of the physical limitations caused by your injury.
You cannot receive compensation unless your disability lasts three days or more. If the disability lasts 14 days or more, you are eligible for compensation for the first three days of your disability.
Total disability benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, while partial disability benefits are equal to two-thirds of your loss of earning capacity.
If you permanently lost the use of an arm, hand, fingers, toes, foot, leg, eyes or ears, the LHWCA provides benefits for a specific number of weeks, depending on the injury.
Total disability benefits are capped at 50 percent of the national average weekly wage. Death benefits are capped at 200 percent of the national average weekly wage.
Injured in a Marine Occupation? Call a Clare Marine Accident Lawyer Today
Claims filed under The Jones Act are not the same as claims filed under Michigan workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, whereas The Jones Act requires employees to prove negligence.
That is why it is important to strongly consider seeking legal representation. The attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates have extensive knowledge of The Jones Act, including requirements for proving negligence, compensation that may be available, and other aspects of the law.
We understand how devastating a work injury can be for seamen, both physically and financially. Our Clare marine accident lawyers are dedicated to pursuing maximum compensation to help you and your family move forward.
It costs you nothing to schedule a free consultation with one of our licensed attorneys and you are under no obligation to take legal action. We do not get paid for our services unless you get paid.
Call 24/7. Free Consultation. Ph: (800) 762-8623.