If you work on a commercial fishing boat and you get sick or injured on the job, you may be wondering who's responsible for footing the bill for your medical costs. A best-case scenario is that it will actually be the boat's captain under the "maintenance and cure" doctrine.
General Maritime Law calls for a vessel's owner to ensure that the workplace they provide for their employees is safe. If they violate this duty, then it allows the injured worker to file an unseaworthiness claim.
Fishers and others who work aboard commercial fishing boats often work long hours during a few short months out of the year.
The Jones Act, which is also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that regulates many aspects related to the use of United States merchant marine ships. This includes how they're utilized either during a national emergency or time of war. Basic details regarding their use are detailed in 46 USC § 50101 and § 50102.
We want to discuss the term "unseaworthy" today. It is an important concept, and one that can allow those with legal standing to file an admiralty and maritime claim against those who may have been negligent in letting a boat or ship go out to sea. The case that is relevant in this regard is the sinking of the El Faro.
The Jones Act may not receive a lot of acclaim from the general public, but it is a crucial piece of legislation that seamen, shipyard workers, crew members on ships and many other maritime workers respect and uphold. The Jones Act protects workers at sea from dangerous working conditions and any injuries that they may suffer on the job as a result of a vessel's dangers or an employer's negligence.
Feel like you've been misinformed about your rights as a maritime worker? You're not alone.
Imagine that you work on a ship, vessel, oil rig or other maritime structure. Many days will go exactly as you and your employer plan. But every once in awhile, the expectations of the day aren't fulfilled because of a dangerous condition on the vessel or structure. Maybe a mechanical failure caused serious injuries to workers; or a wet substance caused someone to slip and fall; or just an obvious dangerous condition left someone in severe pain.
A couple of months ago, we wrote a post about how we can help workers at sea and crew members on boats and shipping vessels to fulfill their Jones Act and unseaworthiness claims. In that post, we talked about how the Jones Act protects workers, seamen and other people working in maritime industries from unsafe conditions and negligent employers.
Foreign liquids spilled on the ground, unsafe working conditions and negligence by an employer are not factors that are limited to land. These factors can take hold at sea, and they can leave people with serious injuries and debilitating circumstances. Seamen, commercial fishermen, offshore workers and many other people who work under maritime laws have rights that protect them when these conditions arise and they are also covered by federal laws. Given the dangers of their work, these laws are the least that could be provided to help them in their times of need.