What is Maritime Law’s Application to Seamen?
There is a special class of maritime workers known as Jones Act Seamen. In order to qualify as a Jones Act Seamen, a worker must be more or less permanently assigned to a vessel in navigation. This has been translated to mean that the individual spends at least 30 percent or more of his time aboard a vessel during his employment.
Maritime law has special application to Jones Act Seamen. Maritime law allows seamen to file two additional claims outside of the Jones Act statute. First, seamen can file a claim for maintenance and cure under general maritime law. When a seaman gets injured at work, he is entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits until he reaches maximum improvement in regard to his injury. This essentially means that he can receive daily living expenses as well as payment for his medical treatment following his injury. These maintenance and cure rights are actually derived from maritime law, not the Jones Act.
Additionally, an injured seaman can file a claim for the un‑seaworthiness of the vessel under maritime law. If any part of the vessel played a role in causing his injury, the seaman can seek damages under an un-seaworthiness claim. This claim essentially focuses on the condition of the vessel and any dangerous condition aboard the vessel which may have caused his injury. This un‑seaworthiness claim is a part of maritime law, not the Jones Act statute.