Accidents can and do happen everyday through no fault of your own. However, what may at first seem to be minor injury can prove to be quite serious when on board a vessel at sea, miles from proper medical care. All mariners should be aware that there are laws in place to safeguard your interests if you are injured through negligence while aboard ship. The Jones Act is one such law.
What is the Jones Act?
Designed and written specifically for maritime protection against negligence, the Jones Act was originally passed by Congress in the 1920s with the latest revision being passed in 2006. This Act enhances and covers incidents that other maritime laws do not. “Negligence” is a broad term under this Act; meanings can range from injuries caused by poorly trained crew, insufficient crew members for the vessel size and mission, improperly secured cargo, unseaworthy, or any of a number of other reasons. An experienced attorney can help narrow and define the meaning in your case.
Jones Act injuries – Who is covered?
Any seaman from the captain down to the lowest worker who spends at least 30% of their time aboard an ‘in navigation’ vessel and whose duties contribute to the ship’s function or the accomplishment of assigned tasks is covered under the Jones Act. “In navigation” simply means a vessel that is floating and operable, whether it be at sea or in port. A vessel in dry dock does NOT qualify, nor does a vessel on a shake-down cruise that has not yet been signed over to its final owner.
Jones Act compensation/benefits
Unlike general Workers Compensation claims, the Jones Act provides many additional benefits to injured seamen. The most basic of these is ‘maintenance and cure’, meaning a daily living allowance is provided, along with medical expenses, until the injury is healed. Seaman may also receive punitive damages, compensation for lost or future wages, mental anguish, and physical pain. If the injury is the cause of death, the seaman’s family may file a claim under the Jones Act.
As with any lawsuit, the burden of proof rests with you, the plaintiff. Time is of the essence when filing a Jones Act claim – within 7 days of the injury is the timeline that must be followed.
Any injury, regardless of how harmless it may seem, should be immediately reported and notated in the captain’s log. Accident reports, medical reports and records, medical bills, and any other relevant documentation of the accident should be provided.
These suits are not filed in local jurisdictions, but rather in state or federal court, making it imperative that an experienced, maritime-law-knowledgeable attorney be retained to protect your rights. Be prepared – these suits are rarely settled quickly; yet another reason to have an attorney fighting for you.
Countless civilian contract personnel have been injured in Iraq due to the perils of the job and the environment in which it takes place. You may be wondering if yours qualifies as a DBA injury, and if so, how you might file a claim. Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. helps clients in Iraq and overseas navigate DBA cases involving bases and other areas of operation.
There are a number of circumstances that have caused civilian contract personnel to be injured in Afghanistan, but all of them can be similarly overwhelming when it comes to filing a DBA injury claim. Even though a contractor who is working on a military base overseas is entitled to certain protections granted by the Defense Base Act, advocating for yourself and ensuring these rights are honored can be a difficult task.
There are many longshore and harbor workers who have been injured in Japan in a variety of circumstances. A DBA injury is a serious matter, and any civilian contract personnel who have sustained such an accident should be afforded the medical care and resources they need. Too often, however, injured contractors are expected to file their claim and navigate the system on their own. This would be a difficult task to require of anybody, but it is even more stressful for a recently hurt person.
Civilian contract personnel who are injured in Qatar are entitled to medical treatment and several other rights that are outlined in the Defense Base Act. Verifying that an incident qualifies as a DBA injury, however, requires that you file a claim and go through a review process. This is not ideal for any contractor who is on the job in Qatar, and it pushes many injured longshore and harbor workers to become frustrated with the process.
Cuba tends to be perceived as a mysterious place, but it isn’t at all for the United States military. Armed forces have occupied Guantanamo Bay Naval Base since 2002, and many civilian contract personnel have been injured in Cuba since then. If you are one of these contractors, you might be wondering whether your affliction qualifies as a DBA injury. Overseas longshore harbor workers may be best served by contacting an attorney…
Sustaining a DBA injury in Guam is traumatic in and of itself, but when civilian contract personnel must then go through the complex claim filing system, it can compound the stress and make anyone feel lost. Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. is committed to serving contractor clients who have been injured in Guam by fighting for their rights, ensuring they receive proper medical care and providing assistance throughout the process of DBA claims.
Much of the United States’ presence in Kuwait is dedicated to maintaining air forces in the area. These places house countless military aircrafts, and as such, require contractor visits on a regular basis for maintenance, repair and cleaning. When jobs such as these result in a DBA injury, the next step may not always be clear. Being injured in Kuwait will bring up many questions for any repair person or harbor workers who are on the job overseas.
Diego Garcia is one of the few international military bases in which civilian contract personnel outnumber actual service members. The high number of contract workers means that reports of being injured in Diego Garcia are not uncommon. Accidents that occur on the Diego Garcia military base should count as a DBA injury and therefore qualify longshore and harbor workers for the benefits outlined in the Defense Base Act.
Suffering a DBA injury in Haiti is a stressful situation, to say the least. It is bad enough to be hurt, but it is even worse when you are in a foreign country and must attempt to navigate the bureaucracy of filing a Defense Base Act claim. The latter of these issues, however, is one that can be easily remedied by enlisting help from a legal professional. Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. can provide the legal representation…