Jones Act Death Benefits
The Jones Act provides a remedy for seamen who are fatally injured during the course of their employment. This remedy is available only to the personal representative of a seaman. The action can be brought only against the seaman’s employer. Because the Jones Act is the exclusive remedy available to the family of a seaman killed by his employer’s negligence, state statues regarding wrongful death cannot be utilized.
If, however, the seaman’s death is caused by the negligence of someone in whole or in part, other than his employer, his representative can bring an action under the general maritime law which, in most cases, is similar to state wrongful death statutes. A seamen killed as a result of the unseaworthiness of a vessel owned by his employer, or a third-party, has an action under the general maritime law. Finally, a seaman (or anyone else) killed outside the territorial waters (beyond three nautical miles) has an action under the Death on the High Seas Act, which can be found at 46 United States Code, Section 72.
The family of a seaman killed as a result of negligence or the unseaworthiness of a vessel is entitled to recover funeral expenses, loss of financial support, value of lost services, loss of probable inheritance for children and loss of nurture, care, guidance, support and training. Additionally, the seaman’s estate can recover for pre-death conscious pain and suffering.