Work on a commercial fishing vessel includes some potentially dangerous situations. If you were involved in a slip-and-fall accident while aboard, you are wondering if the Jones Act covers your injury.
If you suffered the injury through no fault but your own, you will not be eligible for benefits. However, if your employer's negligence was the cause of your injury, general maritime law protects you as well as the Jones Act.
Who is eligible
Because you are an employee of a commercial fishing vessel, you work on navigable waters. As long as you put in at least 30 percent of your work time on those navigable waters, you are eligible for coverage under the Jones Act. Your employer has a duty to provide a safe work environment. This includes keeping equipment in good repair and equipping decks with nonskid surfaces.
Examples of employer negligence
As a fisherman, you know the importance of keeping decks clear of obstacles and anything that could cause someone to slip and fall. You are diligent about ensuring that your own area of the deck is clean and clear, but when you walked to the other side of the ship, you slipped and fell because of fish slime that someone else should have cleaned up. At the very least, your employer, the vessel's owner and captain, should make sure that someone always places warning signs in hazardous areas, but in the case of your slip-and-fall accident, there was no such warning.
Benefits for which you qualify
A maritime attorney will tell you that if your employer's negligence was responsible for your neck injury, even in part, you will be eligible to claim certain benefits under the Jones Act in addition to those available to you under general maritime law. Examples include future loss of earnings and future medical expenses, as well as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.