The life of a Seaman has always been one full of hazard and harm. The law developed over time to protect and provide them fair compensation, as Seaman were otherwise often left destitute by injuries that disabled them from performing the work they’d devoted their lives to. This body of law came to be known generally as Maritime Law. Compensation for injured Seamen is also provided for under the Federal Jones Act legislation (46 U.S.C. § 30104).
Regardless of whether a ship owner or crew member was negligent or careless, Seamen are entitled to “Maintenance and Cure” payments for an injury or illness that occurs at sea. This means the injured Seaman should receive a daily living allowance as well as payment of all medical bills until the Seaman is “cured” and does not need further treatment and can return to duty.
Where a Seaman’s injury was due to the negligence of a ship owner or crew member, or the ship was found to be unseaworthy in some way, a Seaman may be entitled to much more compensation. Where a Seaman is seriously injured or even killed, this additional compensation is essential to make sure the Seaman or his family is not left destitute. The additional compensation that should be paid includes complete loss of wages, loss of future earning ability, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Serious injuries, the loss of a career at sea, and death are tragedies that entail losses that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maritime cases are thus often highly contested by the ship owner’s insurance company. Injured Seaman must protect themselves and their families. They should immediately retain competent Maritime counsel who will investigate, establish liability, and fight for every benefit the Seaman is entitled to.