How the Jones Act Affects Maritime Worker Injury Compensation
The maritime industry includes many types of employees such as ship crew members, submarine crew members, deckhands, longshoremen, and stevedores. Their jobs differ vastly from those of typical employees and their workplace injuries fall under special laws created to address them, including the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Protections of the Jones Act
Special employment and labor laws apply to those who work in the maritime industry. A law known as the Jones Act provides worker’s compensation for seamen who experience a work-related injury. Originally passed in 1920, Congress updated the law in 2006. It applies to those working in ports, the shipping industry, or on the water going vessels. That includes those employed by cruise ships.
Similar to the law that governs general workplace injuries, maritime industry seamen have redress when injured, but they do not file for general federal or state compensation after incurring a workplace injury. While the Jones Act applies to maritime workers, to qualify for its protections, the employee’s job must consist of at least 30 percent of the work time either contributing to a vessel or boat’s use in or serving on a vessel or boat in navigable waters. The most commonly covered workers include:
- Captains and ships’ mates,
- Wait staff.
The Employer Negligence Provision
The maritime law requires that employer negligence contributes to the injury before redress can occur. The most common reasons a person seeks redress include that the employer did not:
- install slip/skid-proof decking materials,
- post OSHA warning signage designating hazardous areas,
- perform essential maintenance, inspections, or repairs essential to the proper workings of the ship or vessel,
- obtain, maintain, and supply appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Jones Act Compensation
The Jones Act compensations cover multiple types of damage and loss – medical care costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In cases of extreme negligence, an employee may also receive punitive damages. When a wrongful death occurred, the family of the deceased can receive redress in the categories of burial expenses, medical care costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The family of the latter can also file a wrongful death lawsuit.
These redress situations take time to file and settle. Just as with land-based injuries under general workers’ compensation, the injured individual must immediately access medical care and treatment. Delay can harm your case. Save all of your medical bills and receipts for treatment. Most individuals use their existing medical insurance that their company provides to pay for the initial treatments.
The monies provided by the Jones Act workers’ comp reimburse you for the initial expenses and then take over the payments. You should first use the medical insurance provided by your employer. All employers must legally provide health care insurance following the passage of the Health Care Insurance Portability Act.
If you have been injured on the job and you work in the maritime industry, contact the most experienced maritime lawyers available in your area.