Seamen working in the maritime industry are financially protected by the Jones Act. In the event of an injury that occurred because of an accident in which the employer was negligible, the seaman is entitled to compensation. When the employer refuses to pay or does not provide what the seaman deems to be adequate compensation, he or she can file a Jones Act claim and get compensation through the claims process.
With the help of an experienced Jones Act lawyer, the claims process may result in a number of different types of compensation, from lost earnings to medical bills and even for pain and suffering. The Jones Act doesn’t just allow for compensation for immediate needs either. Appropriate compensation takes into account how the injury will affect a seaman in the future.
Perhaps the most important part of compensation under the Jones Act is for lost wages. If you are injured aboard the ship on which you work, chances are you will have to miss time on the job, and that means missing income. Jones Act compensation for injuries and lost wages also takes into account the benefits and extras you may have lost, like contributions to your 401k or pension, your health insurance and your vacation days.
Your employer is responsible for providing these lost wages if the accident keeping you from your job could have been prevented. The total compensation for lost earnings varies depending on your situation, but does include all the days from when the accident occurred to the end of a contract or voyage. A calculation of your earnings during that period, including the value of your benefits will give you an idea of the compensation you are owed.
Lost or Diminished Earning Capacity
Because of your injury aboard the vessel your short-term earnings are not the only part of wage compensation to which you may be entitled. The lasting impact of that injury could prevent you from earning as much in the future as you did before the accident, which means that compensation includes consideration for any earning capacity you have lost.
This is another aspect of the compensation that looks to the future. If your injury will prevent you from doing the same work you were able to do before the accident, you may not be able to earn as much as you should be compensated for that loss of future earnings. This calculation is more complicated than simply determining the lost wages in the immediate short term period. It has to take into account your abilities and health before the accident and how many more years you would have been working in your current position.
Getting compensated for your lost income is urgent after an accident because you may not have any money coming into your house. Medical bills are also urgent and important. When you are injured you need treatment right away, and if your employer isn’t prepared to pay for everything you need, you could be paying out of pocket.
As with earnings, your compensation for medical expenses should take into account your immediate bills and any future medical bills you may incur because of the accident. This is not limited to doctor visits and medications. You can seek compensation for transportation expenses to appointments, physical and occupational therapy sessions, surgery, rehabilitation, mental health care, nursing needs, and any type of specialized equipment you need to live an ordinary lifestyle.
Pain and Suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering under the Jones Act is not as clear cut as that for medical bills or lost wages, but it is still important. This type of compensation is a monetary amount that attempts to make up for the mental and physical pain that you experience because of the accident. You may, for instance, be suffering because of a lost limb or because of a disfigurement caused by the accident.
You may also be suffering from mental anguish from your accident. Signs of this could include difficulty sleeping, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or simply losing enjoyment for life because you are in pain or can’t do all the things you used to be able to do.
When you are injured as a seaman, you have the right to maintenance and cure. If your employer is not providing this adequately, you should be able to win Jones Act compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With a knowledgeable lawyer, you should be able to fight for and win the compensation you deserve.