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With respect to crewmembers, or “seaman” as defined by the courts, if an injury or death is caused by the negligence of a seaman’s employer or its fellow employees, the seaman can recover damages from his employer under the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104). Damages can include compensation for all past and future losses of income, expenses associated with medical care, compensation for pain and suffering, and disability associated with loss of enjoyment of activities of normal life. “Put differently, a seaman’s remedies are far more liberal than the benefits of a traditional worker’s compensation claim, which is why a vessel owner has such serious legal obligations to care for their employees should they become injured,” Hurst says. Owners also have a legal obligation to provide a seaworthy vessel to seaman assigned to the vessel. It can be difficult for a vessel owner to disprove he or she didn’t have a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel in the event a crewmember gets injured or killed on the job, according to Hurst. However, if a seaman’s death or injury was caused by “unseaworthiness” of the vessel, remedies similar to those available under the Jones Act could be warranted. “Indeed, the reality is that seaman, which courts classify as ‘wards of admiralty,’ are a protected class of employees under US law,” Hurst says. “And because of the dangers these individuals are exposed to on a daily basis and the concurrent benefits they provide to maritime commerce and national defense, seaman have a longstanding right to be protected under the law and are entitled to liberal interpretation of the concepts of negligence to foster their protection.” That aside, although vessel owners have strict legal obligations to their vessels and crew, there’s no hard-and-fast legal requirement for them to have insurance coverage, says Hurst. However, certain federal and state laws indirectly require vessel owners to carry certain amounts of insurance. For example, every seaman who becomes ill or injured during his or her employment—regardless of any fault of the vessel owner or operator—is entitled to maintenance, cure, and unearned wages as a matter of right. “Indeed, these are very serious legal obligations imposed on vessel owners, which is why most vessel owners take out some form of P&I insurance to cover for their maintenance and cure obligations,” Hurst says. www.akbizmag.com

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2009 Project, July cable, Liberty left Rigging August, 2010 at West Dock, Rig 25 sealift August 2010 above Doyon to Deadhorse, Rig 25 move next Doyon

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Alaska Business Monthly June 2015  

Ravn Alaska CEO Bob Hajdukovich on the tarmac in front of the company’s hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The company’s...

Alaska Business Monthly June 2015  

Ravn Alaska CEO Bob Hajdukovich on the tarmac in front of the company’s hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The company’s...