What are my Rights?
If you have been injured at sea, you have different rights than someone who suffered a shoreside personal injury. That's one reason why it's important to be represented by an attorney who is familiar with the Jones Act and maritime law and will advocate for you to get the maximum amount of financial compensation you are entitled to receive.
If you have questions about your rights and how to assert them, please contact a maritime lawyer at Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC's Seattle or Anchorage offices for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. From our offices, we represent maritime injury victims throughout the country.Protecting The Rights Of The Injured
A seaman/fisherman has certain rights following a personal injury while working:
Medical bills: The employer/vessel owner must pay for all related and reasonable medical bills. This includes doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, clinic visits, physical therapy, X-rays and MRI, medicines, and transportation to get to your appointments. There are no deductible and no limits. The payment of your medical bills is a legal obligation of your employer. This is your right as an injured seaman/fisherman. There are just a couple of exceptions to this rule.
Maintenance: The employer/vessel owner must pay for "maintenance," which is a per day amount for room and board. Historically, maintenance was the shoreside equivalent of the value of the room and board the seaman received on the vessel. The employer oftentimes places the amount of maintenance into a contract. And, the amount is almost always a very low amount, like $20.00 to $25.00 per day. This is an example of employers trying to take advantage of the seaman. Nobody can live on $20 per day in the modern world, but it's in the contract and they try to get away with paying it. We have been successful in breaking this contract rate of maintenance, but it usually takes court action. The main point, however, is that the employer must pay this maintenance amount for each day following your injury until you get as well as you can get.
Airfare: The employer must pay for the seaman's airfare back to the place of hire.
Unearned wages: The employer must pay for the wages that the seaman/fisherman would have earned under this term of employment if he was not injured. Oftentimes, fishermen are hired for a season. For instance, if the seaman is injured ten days into a thirty day season, then the employer must pay the wages for the rest of that season (twenty days).
Right to file a lawsuit: If the seaman/fisherman is injured because of the fault of someone on the vessel or if the vessel or equipment was not in "seaworthy" condition, then the seaman can bring claims in a lawsuit for all other damages, such as pain and suffering, future income loss, retraining, and other damages. These claims and damages are discussed in greater detail here. Most cases settle after filing a lawsuit. If, however, your case does not settle, you have the right to a trial by a jury or judge.
Call our office at 866-974-9633 to learn more about your rights.