Maritime workers spend the majority of their careers away from land on seafaring vessels. If a sailor is injured in a workplace accident, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Luckily, the Jones Act allows offshore workers to sue their employers for negligence.
If you were injured on the job while working offshore, you may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim. While the Jones Act may allow injured workers to collect compensation, these claims differ from standard workers’ comp claims. Learn more about the Jones Act and how the benefits differ from workers’ compensation insurance.
The Main Difference Between These Injury Claims Is Fault
While both Jones Act claims and workers’ compensation claims offer benefits to injured workers, they do not offer the same level of compensation. Additionally, fault plays a role in distinguishing between injured workers’ benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Claim and Fault
Workers’ compensation insurance offers compensation to injured workers regardless of fault. It doesn’t matter who is responsible for causing the accident that resulted in a workplace injury. Even if the injured worker caused the accident, a workers’ comp claim may be filed.
Jones Act Claim and Fault
On the other hand, a Jones Act claim cannot be filed by an injured worker who is responsible for causing an accident on the job. A Jones Act claim depends on an injured worker’s ability to prove employer negligence. Liable parties named in a Jones Act claim may include:
- An employer
- A shipowner
- The ship captain
An injured maritime worker may file a Jones Act claim against any negligent party who works onboard the ship and contributed to the accident.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
Which Option Offers More Compensation Options?
Both workers’ compensation insurance and Jones Act claims offer compensation to injured workers. Both types of claims will cover medical treatment expenses.
However, Jones Act claims offer more advantages. For example, workers’ comp only offers to repay a portion of lost wages. Injured maritime workers who suffer mental anguish, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTD), may also seek damages for pain and suffering in a Jones Act claim.
In rare instances, Jones Act plaintiffs may also be awarded punitive damages. These monetary damages have no connection to the financial losses suffered by an accident victim. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish a defendant for dangerously reckless behavior.
Can You File a Jones Act Lawsuit and a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
An injured worker may not file a claim under both workers’ compensation insurance and the Jones Act. An injured worker will either qualify for a workers’ compensation claim or a Jones Act lawsuit, but not both.
Workers’ compensation insurance protects an injured worker’s right to claim compensation for medical care for injuries on the job. It also protects an employer from litigation. If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to file a workers’ comp claim if:
- You are a company employee
- Your employer carries workers’ comp insurance
- Your injury or illness is work-related
- You meet your state’s reporting and filing deadlines
Special rules may apply to certain categories of workers, including agricultural and farmworkers.
Jones Act Lawsuit
Workers’ compensation laws are regulated at a state level and maritime workers may travel outside the jurisdiction of state laws. The Jones Act offers a path to worker benefits that sailors may otherwise not have.
You may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim if you are a:
- Ship captain
- Ship crew member
- Sailor or seaman
- Oil worker
You may be ineligible to file a Jones Act claim if you spend less than 30% of your job working offshore. Injured harbor workers may have to file for workers’ compensation after a workplace accident. In some complex cases, the Jones Act even applies to airline workers.
If you need more information about the differences between workers’ compensation insurance and Jones Act lawsuits, an experienced attorney may be able to tell you more and explain your rights.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.