Workers’ Compensation or Jones Act?

One of the most common questions that will arise when a seaman is injured is whether a Jones Act or Workers’ Comp claim should be filed. There are some similarities between the two claims, but the coverage provided by a successful Jones Act lawsuit can far exceed Workers’ Compensation benefits. Often the amount received from a Jones Act settlement can be life changing for the injured worker. If a seaman files for Workers’ Comp, it may not be possible to later pursue a Jones Act lawsuit. The reason is that if a seaman applies for Workers’ Compensation, he or she may lose eligibility to file a Jones Act claim. It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable Jones Act attorney before taking any action after a maritime injury.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation claims generally provide money for medical care, disability and lost wages. Traditional Workers’ Compensation laws are meant to help employees who have been hurt on the job and the benefits are paid through the employer’s insurance company. These benefits are only available until the injured seaman is able to return to work. Therefore, Workers’ Compensation benefits are only temporary and do not provide a long term solution for an injured maritime worker.

Maintenance and Cure

An injured maritime worker is entitled to maintenance and cure under the Jones Act. Maintenance is defined as the amount of money an employer must pay an injured maritime worker during the recovery time. The amount is generally anywhere from $15 to $30 per day and is supposed to be 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 a seaman’s right to medical care, which the employer is obligated to pay. Reasonable medical care must be provided until the seaman reaches maximum medical cure, meaning the worker cannot improve any further.

Jones Act Litigation

If negligence caused the seaman’s injuries, additional compensation may be recovered. Negligence of the vessel owner, operator, employer, co-workers or other third party, can entitle the injured worker to a substantial settlement. Injuries caused by defective equipment or an unseaworthy vessel are also eligible for compensation under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act allows injured workers to recover monetary damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, disfigurement and mental anguish. To receive restitution under the Jones Act, the injured worker must be considered a seaman. A seaman can be a crew member of a vessel or person who was assigned to a vessel or fleet of vessels. An offshore worker may also fall into this category. A Jones Act lawyer will be able to determine seaman status and the cause of the injuries.

Contact our law firmn if you have been injured on a vessel. We are experienced maritime attorneys who can help you receive compensation for your Jones Act injuries.