Injured maritime workers typically have the right to recover maintenance and cure - that is a daily stipend while they’re injured, and the cost of their medical bills. But injured seamen who qualify to file a Jones Act claim can typically recover additional damages. If you’ve been injured onboard a vessel, what damages can you recover under the Jones Act?
Eligible Jones Act Damages: Lost Wages and Medical Bills
First and foremost, under the Jones Act, you’re eligible to recover any damages related to your loss of income and medical bills. You’re entitled to recover:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Fringe benefits
These damages are independent of the “maintenance and cure” you may be entitled to under maritime law.
Jones Act: Pain and Suffering
In addition to these basic damages, you may also be eligible to recover damages for pain and suffering. The damages you’re allowed to claim under pain and suffering vary significantly depending on the nature of your injury. You can collect damages for past as well as future pain and suffering if your injury leaves you with permanent consequences.
To prove your pain and suffering damages, a good maritime attorney routinely calls witnesses such as the injured employee’s spouse or friends to testify about how the injury has affected the employee’s life. To speak to future pain and suffering damages, your treating physician will be expected to testify as to whether or not your condition will worsen or improve in the future. Judges and jury can estimate the amount and type of pain and suffering, and they’re allowed to award money damages even though the pain and suffering has not yet occurred.
In addition to future pain and suffering, you’re also eligible to recover for future loss of wages and fringe benefits that are directly related to your injury. For example, if you’re permanently injured and no longer able to work your job, you may be entitled to receive lost wages for your future working career based on what you were earning when the accident occurred, as well as for any promotions or pay raises which you would likely have received as you kept working. You’re also entitled to receive damages for loss of fringe benefits, such as meals that are provided while working, retirement benefits and health insurance. An experienced maritime attorney knows how to calculate these damages appropriately.
For more information or to find out if you have a case, please contact the Voss Law Firm at 281-VICTORY (842-8679).