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Posted by Andy Sperbeck on Jul 1, 2016

An Overview of Maritime Accidents Compensation

An Overview of Maritime Accidents Compensation

People who work in maritime vessels do not have access to workers compensation claims like employees who work offshore. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, injured seafarers do not have access to emergency medical care until they are rescued or their vessel is able to return to shore. Fortunately, they can rely on the Jones Act to recover damages due to the negligence of the ship owner, their captain, and other crew who caused their injury.

Under the Jones Act, employers have the following responsibility to their crew:

  • Provide a reasonably safe place to work
  • Use ordinary care under the circumstances to keep the vessel a safe place to work in

The Jones Act

The Jones Act makes the employer liable for any unsafe condition on the vessel which includes grease or oil on the deck, breakage of equipment, improperly maintained equipment, failure to provide crew members with the proper equipment for doing their work, and others. Unlike standard negligence cases, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant was partially responsible for their injury. So even if the owner is only 1% responsible, they can still recover damages.

In addition, maritime law requires employers to provide their vessel crew free medical care and maintenance until maximum medical cure has been provided. Maintenance includes pain medications, prostheses, and disability aids. It also includes basic living expenses while convalescing.

Available Damages

Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman, sailor, or ship worker shall be entitled to the following damages:

Maintenance and Cure

Maintenance is given as a daily stipend or allotment to cover room and board while on recovery. This includes the time the voyage has ended until “maximum cure” has been given. The latter is determined by medical professionals.

Medical cure, on the other hand, includes payments for medical expenses such as medication, treatment, prosthesis, and other medical necessities until “maximum improvement” is reached.

Unearned Wages

Unearned wages refers to the amount of money that would have been earned if the injury had not occurred. It may be until the end of the voyage, the contract, or the end of the normal pay period.

Additional Benefits

The Jones Act allows the granting of additional benefits if it can be proven that there was negligence on the part of the ship owner or another crew member was at fault.

Statutes of Limitations

Under the Jones Act, a lawsuit must be filed within three years from the date of injury.

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