If you work in the shipping industry in Louisiana, the Jones Act covers your medical costs, lost wages and daily living expenses in the event you become ill or injured, even if you are not onboard a vessel when your injury occurs. The Jones Act is a 1920 federal statute that applies the Federal Employer’s Liability Act to you.
SeaHistory.org explains that the Jones Act serves as your version of workers’ compensation, allowing you to file a claim against your employer. But unlike workers’ compensation, you can file a claim even if your injury or illness is unrelated to your job. In addition, your employer must pay your claim even if you were partially or wholly responsible for your own accident.
Maintenance and cure
Under the Jones Act, maintenance means your daily living expenses and cure means your medical costs. Your employer must pay you both. (S)he can, however, stop paying once you attain “maximum medical improvement,” even if you incur further medical expenses thereafter.
The Jones Act likewise makes your employer liable for your unearned wages while you recover from your illness or injury. You need to understand, though, that how long your employer must pay your unearned wages depends on the period of employment covered in your employment agreement. For instance, if your employer hired you for a specific voyage, (s)he can stop paying your unearned wages as soon as that voyage ends.
While you should not take this information as legal advice, it can help you understand the Jones Act and how it can help you if you become ill or sustain an injury while working as a seaman.