"Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving."-James E. Faust
My advice for anyone handling their Jones Act Case, is to always tell the Truth. Always. No Matter what. Do not be around the bush or sugarcoat anything. You have to be truthful about everything dealing with your case. If you are not honest, The judge will dismiss your case. Trust me on it. I have seen it many times.
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If you were injured in the service of your vessel, chances are you will rely heavily on your Jones Act payments until you are able to work again. But if your employer seems to be dodging your calls or coming up with excuses for why you are not being paid the full amount you are due, you can hold him liable for even more compensation in the form of punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are an amount of money that is paid in addition to any outstanding maintenance and cure payments. These damages are given to a seaman solely to punish the employer for any wrongdoing or poor conduct. The amount of money a seaman can receive varies based on a number of factors, including the degree of misconduct, the extent of the seaman’s injury, and the potential for future injuries the employer could be liable for as a result of his actions.
Seamen may collect punitive damages in maritime injury cases where maintenance and cure has not been properly disbursed. The Supreme Court has ruled that punitive damages may be awarded if a Jones Act employer willfully or recklessly:
- Failed to pay an injured seaman maintenance and cure
- Failed to pay an injured seaman the correct amount of maintenance and cure
- Delayed or denied rightful maintenance and cure payments
- Unfairly terminated or reduced a seaman’s maintenance and cure payments
While the Supreme Court decision has specifically allowed punitive damages for failure to pay maintenance and cure, it is still up to individual courts to allow punitive damages for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness cases.
Since the amount a seaman can receive can greatly affects his ability to receive proper rehabilitative treatment, it is worth investigating the details of your employer’s wrongdoing very carefully. If you can prove that your employer acted in an irresponsible or reckless way that put you and others at extreme risk, there is a good chance that your employer could be ordered to pay punitive damages. To learn more about compensation and recoveries in Jones Act claims, please feel free to use our website to research your case.