The Jones Act was passed to provide maintenance and medical treatment for an injured seaman working on any vessel, if the injury occurred during the course of employment. The Jones Act adopts a very open-minded interpretation of an injured worker. Therefore, any seaman working in any vessel, if injured in navigable waters, will be entitled to claim compensation under the Jones Act.
A seaman is any person who has been permanently assigned to any identifiable fleet or vessel. However, what constitutes the term "vessel" is subject to interpretation by the courts. The term "navigable waters" not only includes the seas and oceans, but also the inland waterways, such as the rivers flowing across states and their tributaries.
Every seaman who is injured while working on a vessel in navigable waters is entitled to medical care in order to provide the maximum medical improvement possible. Apart from medical care, an injured seaman is also entitled to maintenance under the Jones Act. Maintenance is a daily amount of money required to provide room and board, similar to what was provided to the injured seaman on the vessel. This award is usually a very small amount of money.
An injured seaman can claim compensation under the Jones Act even though he may have caused his own injury. However, not all employers are willing to meet their obligation under the Jones Act. Also, there are no statutory requirements that compel the employer of an injured seaman to meet their obligations under the Jones Act.
Therefore, lawyers who have experience in enforcing the Jones Act can help ensure that injured seamen are not deprived of their rights to medical care and maintenance. If you are an injured seaman seeking to claim compensation from your employer, consider consulting with an experienced lawyer in order to discuss your case and understand your rights under the Jones Act.