Q: I was hurt on my vessel while I wasn’t working. Am I still entitled to benefits?
The Jones Act ensures injured workers can recover for any illnesses or injuries caused by employer negligence, provided that their ailments occurred during their employment.
Since seamen are unable to leave a ship while at sea, most injuries suffered aboard a vessel are presumed to be sustained on the job, even if the worker was off duty. All seamen are entitled to receive these benefits when injured in the workplace environment, regardless of the cause of the injury.
Jones Act Injuries
Even when a crew member is off-duty aboard a vessel, he or she may still be called upon to return to work as needed. The seaman, therefore, remains in constant service to the vessel until no longer a crew member.
Furthermore, the principle that a seaman injured aboard a vessel is entitled to Jones Act benefits, regardless of his work status, was settled by Sundberg v Washington Fish & Oyster Co. This case confirmed that injuries and illnesses manifested or aggravated while the seaman was aboard the vessel qualify for Jones Act benefits, regardless of whether the ailment is work-related. However, the Jones Act does not cover injuries caused by a worker’s misconduct, such as gross intoxication.
To qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, an injured seaman must be:
● An active crew member of a sea-going vessel; and
● Capable of going to sea at the time of the accident; and
● Engaged in activity that furthers the mission of the vessel.
Jones Act Compensation
Sleep and off-duty time actually further a vessel’s mission, since they allow crew members to recharge and remain alert. Under the Jones Act, workers are entitled to receive medical benefits, unearned wages, and a daily stipend until their injuries have healed.
If you were injured while working aboard a vessel, you need an experienced attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.