The purpose of the Jones Act was to provide medical and financial benefits to injured seamen. If you have been working on a boat, barge, ship, fishing boat, cruise ship, charter boat, casino ship, another type of vessel, or an offshore drilling rig, you are more than likely covered under the Jones Act. If you’ve been injured in the course of your work, it is important to protect your rights by speaking to a qualified Jones Act attorney.
Things you need to know about the Jones Act:
An owner of a vessel has an absolute duty to maintain a seaworthy vessel. A “seaworthy” vessel is more than simply the fact that it’s not in imminent danger of sinking. A vessel must be fit for its intended use, have all appropriate equipment and safety gear, have a competent crew, and be a safe place to both live and work. A ship or barge can be a seaworthy vessel when it leaves shore and can become unseaworthy because of dangerous situations that come along during the voyage.
A seaman’s injury can also be caused by an employee of an independent contractor aboard a vessel. Thus, you may be able to also bring a cause of action against the third party in addition to the existing Jones Act claim you may already have.
Under the Jones Act, your employer is required to pay you a daily maintenance fee while you are out of work. This fee is not fixed by the law. Some employers are known to pay an injured seaman’s full paycheck. If you are receiving a paycheck on the low end of the spectrum, Jose Orihuela may be able to help.
When you are injured and covered by the Jones Act, an employer will refer you to a company doctor. However, you are not obligated to see or accept the diagnosis of the company doctor. Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can see any physician for his care. It’s usually in the best interest of an injured seaman to seek out professional medical care from a physician who is not connected to the employer. Prior individuals have experienced that company-approved doctors do not always provide the full range of medical tests required for a comprehensive diagnosis. Your health may be at risk, and Jose Orihuela wants you to get healthy. If your health is at stake, you should not be rushed back to work, even if it's temporary or in a reduced capacity position designed to “accommodate” your injury. It is not unheard of for an employer to even eliminate the position you have due to the accommodation. This would leave you out of work, out of money, and in a potentially dire situation. It is important to go see medical providers who put your health as their first priority. This is something Jose Orihuela can help you with.
The Jones Act also differs from Texas Workers' Compensation. The Jones Act provides benefits to injured workers regardless of fault. Under the Jones Act, an injured worker must show that negligence on the part of his employer or fellow crew member/employee contributed to his injury to recover benefits. Your employer may ask you to sign a release prior to assisting you with your needs. It is vital to your future ability to collect benefits to have all legal documents reviewed by a competent attorney.