The Jones Act is a federal law that provides seamen with remedies against their employers for any offshore injuries that occurred while working on a vessel and were the result of negligence on the part of an employer or coworker.The Jones Act only applies to seamen who are in service on a ship. The Act holds employers liable for the negligence of employees for which the employer is responsible, including independent contractors.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides a type of workers’ compensation benefits for maritime workers who are injured on navigable waters. It covers many seamen who are not covered by the Jones Act but still are entitled to disability benefits. This Act provides medical and disability benefits, as well as rehabilitation services for injuries that were sustained on the job.
Under the principle of maintenance and cure, ship owners are obligated to cover the medical expenses of an injured seafarer until they reach maximum medical recovery (MMR). Additionally, the ship owner must provide basic living expenses for the seafarer until the completion of the voyage, even if the seafarer is no longer on board. This entitlement to maintenance and cure is a guaranteed right for the seafarer, except in cases where the injury resulted from their own willful gross negligence. This principle bears similarities to workers’ compensation.
The doctrine of unseaworthiness holds ship owners accountable if a seafarer sustains an injury due to a defect in the ship or any of its equipment, rendering it “unseaworthy.” This legal doctrine places liability on the ship owner for such injuries. On the other hand, the Jones Act enables a seafarer, or someone with a close relationship to the seafarer, to file a lawsuit against the ship owner for personal injury or wrongful death. The case will be decided by a jury. The Jones Act incorporates the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), holding a ship owner liable to its employees for injuries due to employer negligence. The statute of limitations for filing such claims is three years.