Enacted in the 1920s, one of the most crucial laws governing the rights of maritime workers is the Jones Act. This act specifically provides protections for seamen that allow them to collect compensation for their on-the-job injuries. However, although the Jones Act appears to be similar to a workers’ compensation claim, there are stark differences between the two.
To help clarify some of these differences, our skilled personal injury attorneys have prepared the following FAQs. With the below answers, we will go over everything you need to know about a Jones Act claim and how it differs from a workers’ compensation claim.
What Exactly is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law set up to protect United States import ships from foreign competition. This act also grants sailors the right to proceed with legal action against their employer when they have been injured because of unseaworthiness or negligence.
In comparison, workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides medical benefits and wage replacement to those employees who have been harmed in the course of their employment. However, in exchange for this money, these workers give up their right to sue the employer for the accident and their injuries.
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What Are the Main Differences Between the Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation Claims?
There are a few main differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a Jones Act claim. The first difference has to deal with their intent. The Jones Act was developed to allow injured employees the ability to sue their employer for negligence, while workers’ compensation was created to deter these lawsuits by injured employees.
The second difference between the two has to deal with eligibility requirements. For example, the Jones Act applies to maritime industry employees, while workers’ compensation applies to those employees who work on the land.
Finally, the deadline to file each claim also differs. In most cases, an injured seaman has three years to file a claim under the Jones Act, while most state workers’ compensation laws have reporting deadlines that are much shorter or even require the employee to report the injury as soon as possible.
Who Is Eligible to Proceed with a Jones Act Claim?
To proceed with a Jones Act claim, you need to be a seaman with an employment-related connection with a shipping company or a specific ship. In addition, you need to spend at least 30% of your working time with that particular vessel, and your duties need to directly contribute to the ship’s function or to complete the ship’s assigned tasks.
Because this seaman status is often a challenging issue, if you were harmed on the job and believe you qualify under this classification, you must reach out to a skilled offshore injury and Jones Act accident lawyer as soon as you can.
What Types of Unsafe Conditions Can an Employer Be Held Liable for Under the Jones Act?
Generally, an employer can be held liable under the Jones Act for many different types of unsafe conditions on the ship, such as:
- Equipment damage
- Improperly maintained ship equipment
- Oil on the deck of the ship
- Unsafe work methods
- A co-workers negligence
- Assault by a co-worker
- Improper training
- The failure by the employer to provide the crew with proper equipment
However, even if the cause of your accident is not indicated above, it is still important that you reach out to an experienced offshore injury and Jones Act accident lawyer as soon as possible following the incident. These lawyers can promptly review what happened, determine if you have a viable claim, and help you pursue the legal action that can allow you to obtain maximum damages.
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How do Damages Differ Under the Jones Act Compared to a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Under the Jones Act, a seaman that has been injured is allowed to recover damages for:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Medical expense including past, current, and future medical bills (surgeries, doctor visits, prescription medications)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Although you can receive far more compensation when you proceed with a Jones Act claim, this compensation may be reduced by how much you were at fault for the accident. In contrast, while you are limited in what you receive through a workers’ compensation claim, it does not matter who was responsible for your injuries. In fact, even if you are at fault for your own damages, you can still receive money for your lost wages and medical expenses under a workers’ compensation claim.
Can You File Both a Jones Act Claim and a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No, you cannot file both types of claims following your work-related injury. The type of lawsuit you proceed with will depend on the circumstances of your incident. Thankfully, working with a knowledgeable offshore injury and Jones Act accident attorney can help you determine which legal course of action you need to pursue.
How Can an Experienced Offshore Injury and Jones Act Accident Attorney Help You After Your Accident?
Even though the Jones Act can often get you more money than a workers’ compensation claim, filing a Jones Act claim and obtaining the required evidence needed to prove negligence can be a complicated and frustrating ordeal. That is why it is in your best interest to work with an experienced offshore injury and Jones Act accident attorney following your on-the-job accident.
These lawyers can not only help you successfully navigate a Jones Act claim, but they can also determine if you have a viable case, figure out which legal options you should pursue, and assist you as you go after maximum damages.
Get the Legal Help You Need with an Attorney at Morris Bart
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, no matter if the accident occurred at sea or on land, reach out to the skilled attorneys at Morris Bart today for a free case evaluation.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.