If you’re a maritime business owner and one of your employees is injured at work, they might be able to file a lawsuit against your company under the Jones Act. If you’re going to employ maritime workers or seamen that are covered by the Jones Act, you need to ensure that your business is also covered by insurance that specifically covers Jones Act employees.

When seeking insurance coverage, it is important to consult a well-qualified insurance broker with the experience to evaluate your situation and provide coverage for all aspects of your maritime business activities.

How Does the Jones Act Protect Employees?

The Jones Act is a federal maritime statute that provides compensation rights to seamen and maritime workers who have been hurt or developed an illness while performing shipping operations, maintenance, or working aboard or in the regular service of a ship.

If an unseaworthy vessel or unsafe working conditions result in an injury or death, a maritime worker is entitled to a personal injury claim under the Jones Act. As an employer, you are responsible for damages when maritime workers are injured or die in the service of their vessel, and the damage exposure could be significant, which is why it is so important to have the proper insurance.

What Kind of Compensation Can Your Employees Seek Under the Jones Act?

If an employee is injured at work, they are entitled to the following types of compensation under the Jones Act:

  • Maintenance and Cure: As an employer, you are obligated by law to compensate an injured maritime worker until the employee has received all necessary medical treatment. You may also be required to pay a subsistence rate to cover the seaman’s daily living costs for things like food, utilities, rent, and transportation expenses if the injuries inhibit them from going to work.
  • Unseaworthiness: Vessel owners are responsible for maintaining their vessels to ensure that workers on the boat or ship have a safe working environment. Therefore, if a seaman is injured on a vessel deemed unseaworthy, they’re entitled to file a claim. 

Also, if the injury or illness was caused by negligence on your part, the hurt employee may have a right to seek compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

  • Punitive Damages: A seaman may also have a right to seek punitive damages if an employer refuses to address their maintenance and cure needs.  
  • Wrongful Death Claims: The Jones Act allows family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one dies due to a work-related injury or illness. If the fault is found on your part as an employer, you will have to compensate the family for the loss of their loved one.

Contact Our North Carolina Maritime Attorneys Today

Our Wilmington Maritime Attorneys are widely recognized for having extensive knowledge and experience in Maritime Law. We will work with you and your marine insurance broker to assist in identifying risks and mitigating them so that your business is properly covered. 

Call us at 910-763-3404 or contact us online to discuss your case with our dedicated Wilmington Maritime Attorneys, Geoffrey Losee, Pardis Camarda, and Brian Akers, and get the help you plan for success in your maritime business.