Jones Act Claims Designed to Save Maritime Workers from Unstable Futures

Jones Act Attorneys

Information About Jones Act Claims & Maritime Injury Lawsuits

Working as a seaman in the maritime industry is a high-risk occupation. Heavy loads, large equipment, seaworthiness of a vessel, and difficult conditions can all contribute to the elevated risk. The isolation a seaman is subject to is another health factor—where do you go when you suffer a severe head injury one thousand miles offshore? When an injury occurs, expert medical aid is often days away, while life-altering injuries have a window made of minutes. Due to all these factors, a maritime injury can be much more serious than a similar incident occurring on land.

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The Jones Act is a specific protection under admiralty law that provides for any U.S. citizen working as a seaman who suffers personal injury or illness due to unseaworthiness or negligence during their employment aboard a vessel operating in navigable waters. The Jones Act was created, in part, to offer relief to injured workers in the maritime industry and to help ensure they receive appropriate compensation for their injuries.

While a Jones Act claim is usually filed for cases similar to workers' compensation (e.g. workplace injury, illness, or wrongful death), a Jones Act settlement is usually far greater in terms of actual dollars awarded to an injured worker or their family. One reason for that is, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, Jones Act claims are entitled to a wide array of recovery types.

Jones Act settlements include compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Physical pain, suffering and disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Medical care
  • Cost of living during recovery

General workers’ compensation only covers basic medical care (for the most part).

The Biggest Difference Between the Jones Act & Workers’ Compensation

Another reason for the higher payouts is that a Jones Act claim is fault-based, but has a lighter burden of proof than a civil lawsuit on land.

Let’s look at a common example:

If a construction worker is struck by a falling pipe, they would automatically be entitled to medical benefits under workers’ compensation. However, if their losses demand more than their benefits allow, they could seek additional benefits (pain and suffering, lost wages) from additional parties at fault—or potentially against their employer if criminal negligence was the cause of the accident (but even then, the likelihood of successfully suing an employer when you have workers’ comp is low).

If a rig worker suffered the exact same accident, they would need to prove that their employer is at fault to receive benefits. However, they’re entitled to receive far more thorough benefits than in a workers’ comp claim—and they would only need to prove that the employer was in any way responsible for accident. Theoretically, an employer even 1% responsible for a seaman’s injuries would be liable to provide compensation.

The Biggest Difference Between the Longshoreman Act & the Jones Act

The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides workers’ compensation to maritime employees who are not seamen—that is, are not part of a crew on a vessel. The LHWCA largely applies to dock workers, shipyard workers, and any worker who is employed near the water but not on a vessel. Thought it is a federal workers’ compensation program, the LHWCA still provides better benefits than general claims.

Maritime Lawyers Protecting Injured Seaman

If unseaworthiness of a vessel or any negligence on the part of the shipowner, captain, or other crew contributed to an accident in any way, the cash settlement of a Jones Act case is often considerably larger than either a comparable workers' compensation case occurring on land or the maintenance and cure benefits offered under general maritime law.

If you have recently been injured while offshore, it is important that you have an injury lawyer on your side who is well-versed in the Jones Act and other pieces of maritime law. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we recognize the importance of these types of claims. We are prepared to go the distance in our efforts to help our clients obtain the best outcome possible—fighting for the just outcome that they deserve.

Our team has secured billions of dollars for injured clients all along our shores, including over two dozen crew members of the Deepwater Horizon. We are the leading offshore injury lawyers in the nation, fighting on behalf of oil rig employees, ship crew members, and other at-sea maritime workers. Our legal insight and professional opinion on the maritime industry have been featured on networks like CNN, the Houston Chronicle, ABC News, and more. When you want proven courtroom warriors, we are the name oil corporations and shipping companies fear most.

Call (888) 493-1629 today to speak with our team! We’re happy to help answer your questions.

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