The Jones Act is a maritime law that essentially serves as a worker’s compensation statute for the high seas. The rules of a Jones Act claim are not exactly like worker’s compensation, but can also provide additional benefits based on the conditions surrounding any particular injury claim.
Any possible litigant should prepare for the initial consultation with this in mind and bring all pertinent documents available. Documentation is critical in any Jones Act claim. Additionally, it is important to have all facts straight and in hand when meeting with potential counsel. The company’s version of events is rarely the same as the injured party.
Locating a Jones Act attorney who is experienced and effective is the first step in the case assessment process. There are a few ways that damage responsibilities differ with maritime law that can allow for enhanced awards.
Maintenance And Cure
Maintenance and cure are specific to the Jones Act. Maintenance refers to financial support during the time that an injured worker is rehabilitating from the accident when they could have been working otherwise. Maintenance is the legal term for the benefit many workers call “per diem” and can range from $10-40 daily above and beyond any compensation due from the negligent party.
An experienced Jones Act attorney will also be concerned about the physical condition of any vessel. Just because a ship will not sink does not make it effectively seaworthy. All safety regulations must be met. Taking some notes on the condition of your workplace is a good idea.
Workers have an absolute right to maintenance and cure beyond a standard lost wages and physical injury claim. The attorney will explain that a valid Jones Act claim will stop at the time the worker rehabilitates to the optimum physical expectations. This is part of the cure component to your claim, which requires the responsible party to provide the medical attention necessary to return the worker to reasonable health whether or not they ever return to work. This differs slightly from standard workers compensation law, but punitive damages are still available.
Multiple Negligent Parties
When negligence can be proved by an independent contractor in addition to a primary employer, the cases can get even more complicated. An experienced Jones Act attorney will do everything possible to establish as many negligent actors as necessary involved in any injury or wrongful death. Wrongful death is typically covered by the Death on the High Seas Act, but eligibility can stem from a valid Jones Act claim.
Legal standing to sue can extend to immediate family in the event of wrongful death and potential earnings questions will be part of the attorney’s questioning. It is important to understand that this maritime law only applies to seamen and alternate workers on vessels are covered normally by different legislation. A Jones Act attorney will be able to help clarify whether the worker classification is accurate.
If you were injured during the course of your job and think you might have a Jones Act claim, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers today.