Do I Have a Jones Act or Workers' Compensation Claim? - Consumer Justice Foundation

Do I Have a Jones Act or Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Written by Faith Anderson on July 30, 2013
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Do I Have a Jones Act or Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Maritime workers injured on the job may be entitled to significantly more compensation via a Jones Act claim, when compared to a workers’ compensation claim.

Maritime workers face a particularly high risk of being injured on the job, which is why Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act. The first question that should be asked when a seaman is injured on the job is whether a Jones Act or workers’ compensation claim should be filed. Although there are some similarities between the two claims, the coverage provided by a successful Jones Act lawsuit can significantly exceed the benefits provided by a workers’ compensation claim. It is particularly important to know the difference between the two claims and under what circumstances each is appropriate, because if an injured seaman files for workers’ comp, he may be restricted from filing a Jones Act claim. If you are a maritime worker and you were injured on the job, the best way to determine whether you should file a Jones Act claim or workers’ comp claim is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney for legal guidance.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Although laws regarding workers’ compensation vary state by state, workers’ comp laws are generally designed to provide disability payments, medical care and income benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Benefits of this kind are typically paid through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, and are meant to help keep injured workers afloat until they are able to return to work. In most cases, worker’s compensation benefits usually offer relatively small settlements that cover little more than medical bills and lost wages. In general, workers’ compensation benefits are only temporary and do not provide a long-term solution for an injured maritime worker.

Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – Jones Act Claims

The Jones Act, on the other hand, offers very high cash settlements when compared to workers’ compensation, but is available strictly to workers who are injured while in service to a vessel on navigable waters. The Jones Act is a federal law which includes claims for workers injured on vessels like offshore drilling rigs, cruise ships, tugs, barges, and may even offer coverage for workers injured while in transport to the vessel, or while the vessel is docked. The Jones Act also permits injured seamen to seek financial compensation for their injuries caused by the negligence of their employers or co-workers during the course of their employment on a vessel. The Act seeks to recover damages for both past and future economic and non-economic losses.

In addition to compensation for injuries incurred as a result of negligence, an injury maritime worker can also make a claim against the vessel’s owner under the Jones Act, on the basis that the vessel was not seaworthy. Under the Jones Act, an employer may also be liable for failing to provide a seaman with adequate medical care. Under the Maintenance and Cure provision of the Jones Act, an injured maritime worker is entitled to maintenance, or payments made to the worker by his employer which are equivalent to the amount of money it would cost to live on land in the same manner the worker lived on the vessel. Cure refers to an injured seaman’s right to medical care, which the employer is also required to pay until the seaman reaches maximum medical cure, at which point he cannot improve any further.

Jones Act and Workers’ Comp Litigation for Injured Workers

Understanding the differences between workers’ compensation and Jones Act claims is essential to determining which type of benefits you may be entitled to. If you are a maritime worker and you were injured aboard your vessel, contact a personal injury attorney immediately. You may be entitled to significant reimbursement under the Jones Act, which allows injured workers to recover monetary damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, disfigurement, and mental anguish. If you have suffered serious injuries on the job, you deserve to collect fair and timely reimbursement for the resulting consequences, and workers’ compensation benefits may just not be enough. With the expertise of a personal injury lawyer on your side, you can investigate all aspects of your claim and determine whether you are eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, maximizing the amount of reimbursement you collect.

Posted Under: On The Job Injury, Work Related Lawsuits
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