“I’ll tell you what the public likes more then anything. It’s the rarest commodity in the world-honesty.” -Merle Haggard
Like any other career at sea, diving carries a multitude of risks. Divers may suffer asphyxiation, shark attacks, and any number of injuries that can be permanent or even fatal. The Jones Act provides benefits for workers who have been assigned to a particular sailing vessel, most commonly sailors and crew. But divers can also qualify for benefits if they work exclusively on one ship and contribute to its mission.
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Divers Who Qualify for Jones Act Status Are Entitled to Compensation
Any injury that occurs while a diver is performing service to benefit the vessel should be paid for by the employer’s insurer under the Jones Act. This can include an injury that occurs on board the ship, under the water, on shore, or even if the diver is at home but is “on call” in case the employer requests his services and he has to report to work.
The Jones Act protects commercial divers in many different ways, including:
- Compensation. The Jones Act provides specific types of compensation to injured seamen known as maintenance and cure. Maintenance provides a portion of the diver’s regular wages so the diver can pay bills while he is unable to work. Cure is payment of an eligible diver’s medical bills, including hospitalization, emergency room treatment, physical rehabilitation, assistive devices, and anything else he might need to recover from his injury.
- Safety compliance. Many divers are injured because the owner of the vessel did not take adequate measures to protect the lives of the crew. If onboard equipment was not properly inspected, needed replacement, was not up to code, or rendered the vessel unseaworthy, divers can pursue legal claims to punish the employer and be awarded further compensation.
- Additional payment. In some circumstances, divers can recover many of the same damages in standard personal injury claims, including permanent loss of income, future disability, pain and suffering, and punitive damages for failure to provide maintenance and cure.
If you are a freelance diver, you will not qualify for Jones Act benefits. However, you may be eligible for injury recovery under The Longshore Act or as a third party claim, which covers many employees who work near open water but are not crew members of any vessel. Please use our website to learn more about your injury claim, including how to collect permanent disability for the effects of your injury.