What Damages Can I Recover If My Employer’s Negligence Caused the Injury in My Jones Act Claim?

Offshore workers deal with some of the harshest conditions of any industry. Their jobs require lifting, going aloft, throwing heaving lines, tending capstans, loading stores, and a whole array of other physically demanding tasks. To make it worse, they are often performing these tasks in a very dangerous work environment, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that sometimes things go wrong. Under the Jones Act and other relevant laws, injured seamen may have the right to recover damages from employers who fail to protect their safety or don’t address unsafe conditions. But many seamen aren’t aware of their rights or just how many of their expenses can be covered if they are hurt at work.

Medical Expenses

If you have seen doctors for your injuries, you may make a claim to get your medical bills paid. Under the Jones Act, this might include the costs of:

  • Hospital stays
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Specialist visits
  • Lab testing
  • X-rays and imaging studies
  • Surgeries
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical equipment
  • Other medical needs

While it makes sense for an employer to help pay your medical bills after an injury the company is responsible for, you should be aware that there is sometimes more to your costs than just doctor and hospital visits. If you have any questions about whether an expense will be covered, don’t wait any longer to investigate your rights further. 

Mental Health

While anger, fear, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness may seem like natural reactions to a terrible event, make sure that you communicate with your doctors and loved ones if you notice changes in your behavior or if your emotional state is beginning to interfere with your life or your recovery. Seeking out a professional can help you find effective strategies for:

  • Coping with the trauma of the event
  • Coping with a long or complicated medical recovery
  • Coping with new limitations imposed by your physical injuries
  • Coping with financial and family stress related to your injuries and care
  • Coping with lingering feelings of anger, hurt, and fear

It is hard to deal with a serious or disabling injury, and it can take a toll on your health. Necessary mental health care is covered under the Jones Act, and it’s generally compensated as a part of your overall medical care.

Lost Income

If your injury leaves you unable to work, you may be able to recover damages for your economic losses, including wages and employee benefits. Keep track of how much work you miss, and consider speaking with an attorney if you’ve missed a large amount of work or can’t work in the same type of job because of your injuries. In order to “prove” that you are owed compensation for lost income under the Jones Act, you may need help from skilled attorneys and economic experts.

Keep in mind, too, that these claims for lost wages are distinct from claims under "maintenance and cure."  A lot of maritime companies tell their workers that "maintenance and cure" is a substitute for Jones Act claim. Don't fall for this trick.

Pain and Suffering and Other Damages

There are other costs of a serious injury that can be hard to put a price tag on. Rather than compensating you for just your mental health care bills, the Jones Act recognizes and tries to account for the intangible pain and emotional anguish that you experience as a result of your injury. This might include financial compensation for:

  • Physical impairment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish 

While you might not receive a bill in the mail for all the ways an injury has changed your life, there can still be steep emotional costs. In cases involving very serious injuries—like permanent orthopedic injuries, amputations, burns, or death—seamen may be able to recover large amounts of money for these damages, into the many millions of dollars.

Future Needs

Many serious injuries require years, or even a lifetime, of costly care. Under the Jones Act and other maritime laws, you may be able to recover compensation for your potential medical needs, lost earning capacity, and other costs in the future. Don’t forget to take these projected costs into account when negotiating a Jones Act claim.

Understand What Your Jones Act Claim Is Worth by Investigating Your Case With Our Experienced Attorneys

If you have questions about what compensation you may be able to recover after a serious injury at sea, an experienced attorney Definition of Compensation in the Dictionarycan be a valuable ally in determining the exact damages you can recover, gathering the necessary evidence, helping you protect your rights, and fighting for a favorable settlement for you and your family.

Injured mariners are confronted with a number of questions and challenges in their Jones Act claims, but getting informed can help seamen and their families protect themselves and get the support they need. If you are unsure how to get the compensation you deserve, or if you simply have questions about what your rights really are, don’t hesitate to phone our attorneys directly for answers, guidance, and a free case review. You should also look over a free copy of our book, The Insider’s Guide to Winning Your Jones Act Case, which offers basic information about what to expect after an injury at sea and how to start taking control of your claim today.


Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.