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Jones Act and workers’ compensation: Key differences

The maritime is a beautiful, unique industry. As such, its processes and regulations are just as unique.

For maritime workers who are injured on the job, receiving compensation is one key difference. While you have just as much of a right to earning benefits and recouping lost wages, the course you need to take looks a little different.

Merchant marines do not qualify for workers’ compensation, but they are protected from injury under the Jones Act, which requires employers to provide a reasonably safe working environment. If the captain or any other employee is negligent for your injuries, the employer may be held liable.

What’s the difference?

What makes filing a claim under the Jones Act different than land-based employees who file a workers’ compensation claim is that responsibility and fault are not factors in workers’ compensation. In a Jones Act claim, employees must be prepared to provide evidence that supports the assertion of negligence. This evidence could apply not only to an employer, but also to crew members, officers, operators or anyone else employed on the vessel.

However, the employer does not have to be solely liable. You can be partially negligent and still receive compensation. As long as you can prove that the employer’s negligence played some role in the injury, however minor, you are covered under the Jones Act.

One benefit maritime workers have over employees in other industries is that under the Jones Act, the cost of medical bills and all lost wages are recoverable, regardless of how long you are off the job. Employees covered under workers’ compensation have their medical bills paid and disability benefits provided only if they have been out of work for a few days.

Filing a Jones Act claim

If you are injured on the job, you should report the injury to your supervisor within seven days. Make an official statement about the injury and who is at fault through an accident report. Of course, you should also seek immediate medical treatment that is available to you and keep all relevant medical records.

An experienced maritime lawyer can work with you on the claims process and help gather all of the necessary evidence for a Jones Act claim to be successful.

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