Most maritime workers understand that the Jones Act is an important protection for them in the event of an injury on the job. The Jones Act is a federal law that controls maritime commerce in the United States. In addition to regulating commerce, it also provides some important benefits to maritime workers covered under the act.
If you are a seaman covered by the Jones Act, you probably understand the idea of maintenance and cure, but there are other important benefits, as well.
How a civil claim can help you
In the event of an accident, most maritime workers think of maintenance and cure, which is the most common form of benefit for injured seamen. Maintenance and cure, like workers’ compensation, generally covers the injured worker’s day to day living expenses and medical care resulting from the injuries.
Like workers’ compensation benefits, maintenance and cure is often insignificant next to the true extent of your injuries or losses. Fortunately, the Jones Act provides the potential for more than just maintenance and cure benefits.
According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell, the Jones Act affords maritime workers and their families:
- The right to bring a civil claim: This is the most important issue. Without the right to bring a civil action, none of the other benefits would matter. As a technical matter, the Jones Act extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to maritime workers covered by the Jones Act. This means injured workers covered by the Jones Act can bring claims against their employers for injuries sustained on the job and during the course of their employment.
- The choice of state or federal court: Although this might not seem important at first glance, it could be critical to the success of your claim. Neither court is an obvious benefit in every case. An experienced maritime lawyer can look at your case and use the trends in the various courts to determine which court would better suit your case.
- The right to a jury trial: There are many cases where a judge might rule against you, but a jury could understand your situation better and rule in your favor. The Jones Act provides a distinct advantage by protecting the right to a jury trial in a civil claim.
- The right to bring a wrongful death claim: This is also very important for families of someone who has died in the course of maritime work. If the worker meets the criteria for coverage under the Jones Act, his or her survivors could obtain compensation for their losses. This money could help pay living expenses and provide the family with an income for years to come.
Of course, all of these Jones Act benefits require that the maritime worker involved be covered under the Jones Act. There are strict, specific criteria for coverage under the legislation. If you are covered, these benefits could provide you with fair and adequate compensation for your injuries and losses.