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Before you receive compensation under the Jones Act

Any New Yorker who is injured on the job should have some recourse for receiving compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, the workers’ compensation laws that apply to employers in the state are not the same as those that apply to maritime employers. According to the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit, a seaman who sustains an injury because of the employer’s negligence may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.

If a sensible person would not have acted in the way the employer did to create the circumstances, or if it is the action that is unreasonable, then it may indicate negligence. The seaman must have proof that the act or failure to act was negligent in order to proceed with the claim.

Another factor that must be proved, according to the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit, is whether the employee filing the Jones Act claim is, indeed, a seaman. This does not necessarily mean a person who works on a vessel or a group of vessels at sea. It could also include employment on a vessel in navigation that is at anchor. Any type of watercraft may be considered a vessel if its purpose is to transport people or cargo on the water.

The employee must spend enough time on the job that it could not be considered incidental, sporadic or temporary work. Evidence must be provided that shows that the time spent on the job is substantial. Because there are disadvantages and dangers that are specific to jobs that seamen perform, and are not present in other types of employment, the employee has the burden of proof to demonstrate that he or she is subject to these in order to show seaman status.

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