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Who Is Covered by the Jones Act? What Benefits Does It Provide?

As a maritime worker, you know your job carries certain risks. But you should also know that your employer is obligated to ensure that your work environment is reasonably safe, and that you have the proper training and equipment to do the job.

When a work accident happens, maritime workers need to be aware of every available option for covering medical expenses and other costs resulting from the injury. In addition to compensation under general maritime law, seamen may be entitled to compensation under The Jones Act.

Who is covered under The Jones Act?

Most employees aboard commercial vessels are considered to be seamen covered by The Jones Act. If you work aboard a ship, barge, tug, fishing boat, dredge, transport boat or an oil rig, you are probably a Jones Act seaman.

Specifically, you must:

  • Be assigned either to a vessel or a fleet of vessels
  • Spend at least 30 percent of time on a vessel
  • Be employed on a vessel that is in navigation, not dry-docked or disabled

The Jones Act covers crew members, as well as masters of the crew.

Longshoremen, harbor workers and shipyard workers are generally covered by general maritime law and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. 

What benefits are provided under The Jones Act?

In general, seamen are entitled to a variety of kinds of compensation under The Jones Act, including:

  • Maintenance -- living expenses while the seaman is off work because of the injury
  • Cure -- medical treatment, rehabilitation and medications until the seaman is returned to good health
  • Transportation -- this may include transportation by helicopter or ambulance, as well as repatriation costs if an injured seaman needs to return to his home country
  • Vocational training if the seaman is unable to return to the previous job because of the injury

Unfortunately, in many cases, vessel owners provide incorrect information to seamen regarding their rights. For more on that, please see our previous two posts:

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