Jones Act / Seamen / Crewmen
At Clark & Zedella we are Jones Act lawyers. Some law firms advertise that they are Jones Act lawyers but in reality, they don’t have the knowledge or skills to handle these highly technical maritime claims. We represent union and non-union seamen under the Jones Act every day.
Jones Act Negligence Injury / Death
If a seaman’s injury or death was caused by negligence of the seaman’s employer or his or her fellow employees, then under the Jones Act 46 U.S.C. § 30104, a seaman can recover damages from his or her employer in addition to maintenance and cure and unearned wages.
Jones Act Injury Damages include:
Jones Act Death Damages
Jones Act Injury Settlements
If a seaman is unrepresented the company employers and their insurance companies will often try to “settle on the cheap.” The injured seaman may not have a full understanding of all damages that are collectable. At Clark & Zedella we analyze a case for what it is worth not what an insurance company or employer may “want to pay.” If you have been injured and offered a settlement, call us for a free consultation regarding the fair value of your case.
The vessel and its owner and operator owe to a seaman assigned to the vessel the duty to provide a seaworthy vessel and are liable for an injury or death to a seaman resulting from breach of the warranty of a seaworthy vessel. If a seaman’s injury or death were caused by unseaworthiness of the vessel the seaman can recover damages similar to the remedies under the Jones Act. In our jurisdiction the seamen need only show that the vessel or its equipment were not fit for their intended purposes and that the unfit or unseaworthy condition caused the injury.
Even if the vessel owner or operator does not have knowledge of the unseaworthy condition, they remain liable. The fact that the condition exists on the vessel and caused harm is enough to visit liability on the vessel.
Maintenance and Cure
Every seaman who becomes ill or injured during his or her employment, regardless of any fault of the owner or operator of the vessel is entitled to maintenance and cure and unearned wages as a matter of right. Maintenance is the seaman’s reasonable expenses of room and board while ashore. Maintenance is like a daily stipend and is payable until the seaman is fit for duty or until maximum benefit of treatment is reached. Cure is the reasonable medical expenses incurred by the seaman for curative treatment.
For union seamen the amount of maintenance is set by union agreement in many cases and cannot be negotiated. For non-union seamen the rate can vary widely. Often employers or their insurance companies “pick” a random rate that is favorable to the employer and much lower than the true estimated living expenses of the seaman. This lower rate is not based on the seaman’s actual expenses and can make a big difference in what goes in the seaman’s pocket on a daily and monthly basis while he or she is recovering from an injury.
At Clark & Zedella we understand the law and how to fairly estimate the true maintenance owed and we are skilled at getting the employer to pay the correct amount of maintenance. In some cases, this requires going to the Court. In some instances, when there is wrongful refusal to pay the Court can award attorneys’ fees and sometimes punitive damages to the injured seaman.
Jones Act Negligence for Failure to Treat
If a seaman is injured and the employer fails to obtain prompt and adequate medical treatment for the seaman, the company can be sued for negligence under the Jones Act for failure to treat. This legal cause of action is separate and apart from failure to pay maintenance and cure. Thus, even in cases where there is no fault of the employer if the employer fails to treat a seaman it can be held liable for negligence under the Jones Act.
Jones Act / Kinds of Negligence
Jones Act Negligence includes but is not limited to: