Working By The Water: 5 Rights You May Not Know You Have

Working on the water can be fun, adventurous and lucrative, but it can also be dangerous. As a result, the Merchant Marine Act, also known as the Jones Act, was established in 1920 to protect seamen from negligent and dangerous practices. Today, the Act still stands to guarantee rights for those who work in maritime industries. The following are five things that maritime workers need to be aware of:
1. Defining Seamen

To be covered under the rights offered by the Jones Act, an individual must meet certain criteria, including being considered a seaman. Such individuals must work maritime positions in which they are working on a dock, an offshore oil rig, or a seaworthy vessel. Employers who employ such individuals must be considered to work within the maritime industry, and each employee who qualifies must meet certain standards to be considered under the Jones Act, including the standard that each qualifying worker be working aboard a vessel or in a position that directly impacts vessels. This definition may change depending upon the individual’s involvement with the operation of a vessel.

2. Defective Equipment

In cases where a vessel, a vessel’s equipment, or safety precautions are not considered to be seaworthy, an injured seaman may be able to sue with the help of Jones Act attorneys. Essentially, each seaman is afforded the right to safe operation within the limits of the task or tasks at hand, and if a maritime employer fails to provide such safe operations and precautions, a seaman may have a legitimate reason to sue.

3. Maintenance and Cure

The Jones Act also provides provisions for seamen to be offered maintenance and cure, meaning food, shelter, and medical reimbursement. If an accident occurs aboard a vessel that falls under the Jones Act, a worker may sue if he or she is not provided adequate food, shelter, and medical cost reimbursement should an accident occur.

4. Death

If a seamen dies during the course of his or her duties, the Jones Act also provides for death benefits to be paid to the deceased seaman’s family or willed individual or individuals.

5. History

If you’re a maritime employee or employer who qualifies under the Jones Act, it’s also important for you to be able to prove a history of good or bad behavior. As an employer, if it can be proven in court that you have a history of negligent behavior that may result in injuries or death, you may want to think about revising your practices. As an employee, you may also need to prove a history of negligent and illegal behavior in order for your case to proceed and be successful.

Finally, if you or a loved one have been the victim of a qualifying maritime accident that has resulted in an injury or death, it’s important for you to know that a maritime lawyer can help. While personal injury attorneys may seem like a good idea to seek compensation, few have the knowledge and experience of a maritime lawyer when facing such circumstances. A maritime lawyer will have intimate knowledge regarding the Jones Act and other laws that govern work on the water, and by partnering with such professionals, you’ll often stand a better chance of gaining the compensation that is deserved.

Saam Banai is a freelance writer and editor and certified sailor.  If you work on a seaworthy vessel, dock, or offshore oil rig and are injured on the job, contact one of the Jones Act attorneys from the firm Doyle Raizner LLP. Admiralty and maritime law can be extremely difficult to understand, because it is governed by a variety of federal statutes. That’s why it’s important to employ the services of an experienced attorney that can properly evaluate your maritime injury claim.
Thanks, Sam, for this maritime information.  You’ll also notice these workers are required to wear the same Industrial Safety Supplies as those who work on land.  Pat


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