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How do Jones Act benefits differ from workers’ compensation?

Going to work every day in Manhattan (no matter the profession) can be difficult for anyone. Any number of challenges and risks could await you. Fortunately, you are typically able to draw some comfort from the knowledge that should something happen to you on the job, there are resources in place to help (such as workers’ compensation benefits). You might face a heightened number of on-the-job risks when you work in the maritime industry. For injuries that happen while at sea, you can rely on protection through the Jones Act. Many in your profession may view workers’ compensation benefits and those offered through the Jones Act as being the same thing. Yet are they? 

There are, in fact, a few distinct differences between Jones Act benefits and workers’ compensation coverage. The most obvious is that the Jones Act only protects you while at sea, while traditional workers’ compensation benefits are limited to workplace accidents that occur on land. Yet an even more important distinction is that workers’ compensation coverage will typically only pay for expenses such as medical bills and rehabilitation services. Per the Jones Act statute (as shared by the Cornell Law School), you can actually bring a civil action against your employer to seek compensation for lost wages (or the loss of your income if you are unable to return to work). 

Another important difference is that in cases where you are seeking protection from the Jones Act, you must prove that your accident occurred due to the negligence of your employer. Workers’ compensation are made available regardless of who is at fault for a workplace accident. 

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