Maritime workers who are masters or crew of vessels that operate in navigable waterways are not protected by standard workers’ compensation insurance should they suffer an injury in a maritime accident, but rather by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is best known today as the Jones Act.
With terminals including Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, Virginia is home and port for countless maritime workers. Because maritime law and Jones Act regulations are complex and overlapping, it is important to contact the experienced Virginia admiralty and maritime lawyers at Kalfus & Nachman if you suffered an injury in a maritime accident. Call (800) 361-0430 today for a free consultation.
Common Vessels in Jones Act Claims
The term “vessel” may apply to crafts including:
- Cargo ships
- Cruise ships
- Fishing boats
- Offshore oil rigs
- Tug boats
Injuries do not necessarily have to occur while the vessel is stationed at sea or traversing a waterway for a maritime accident victim to be eligible for benefits under the Jones Act. Injurious circumstances covered by the Jones Act may occur on the assigned vessel, in wharves or ports, on cargo docks, at training facilities, or during transit to or from the assigned vessel.
Negligence and the Jones Act
One of the main differences between workers’ compensation and the Jones Act is that crew who suffer injuries in maritime accidents must establish negligence to receive benefits.
The Jones Act stipulates that vessel owners and operators have an obligation of fostering protection, which means in part that crew members have a right to safe working conditions relative to their job duties. Negligence that may qualify maritime workers for benefits under the Jones Act includes:
- Faulty equipment
- Inadequate safety gear
- Inadequate safety protocols
- Forced overlong workdays
- Negligent behavior by fellow crew
- Unsafe working conditions
- Improper staffing or understaffing
- Navigational errors
- Failure to provide timely medical treatment
Maritime workers may be eligible for additional compensation beyond Jones Act benefits in certain circumstances, such as if the vessel is proven to have been unseaworthy.
Compensation under the Jones Act
Maritime workers who qualify for compensation under the Jones Act typically receive benefits in the form of “maintenance” and “cure.” Maintenance covers the cost of lost wages and living expenses the injured crew would have received had the injury not occurred. Cure refers to compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
If you were injured or a family member received fatal injuries in a maritime accident, please contact the admiralty attorneys in VA at Kalfus & Nachman for your free case consultation by calling (800) 361-0430. Our maritime accident attorneys have extensive experience with Jones Act claims and proudly represent maritime workers in the Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia, areas.