Serving as a seaman in the maritime trade is a great-risk profession. Adding, even more, danger to the job is the fact that while the hours and shifts are often long and grueling, they workers deal with heavy machinery, questionable seaworthiness vessels, harsh weather and climate conditions, and are working around and with very large equipment and machines. When an injury happens, expert medical aid often takes days to arrive on the vessel. To make matters work life-altering injuries typically have a small window to be made corrective and in some cases can worsen in only a matter of minutes. Due to all these factors, a maritime injury can be much more serious than a similar incident occurring on land.
The Jones Act provides certain assurances under admiralty law to any U.S. citizen working as a seaman that sustains a personal injury or illness as a result of the unseaworthiness of a vessel or the negligence of a worker aboard the vessel, when the vessel is operating in navigable waters. The Jones Act was designed to grant assistance to wounded workers in the maritime industry and also to assure that they obtain appropriate money for their injuries.
While a Jones Act claim is similar to workers’ compensation (For example, when one sustains a workplace injury, a workplace illness, or dies while working), a Jones Act settlement is ordinarily considerably higher regarding the actual dollars awarded to a wounded worker or their family members. One cause for this disparity is that unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a Jones Act claim entitles an injured worker to a much larger variety of recovery types.
Jones Act settlements include money for:
Medical care (Generally workers’ compensation satisfies basic medical care)
Cost of living during recovery
Loss of future earning capacity
Lost wages (Generally workers’ compensation satisfies lost wages)
Physical pain, suffering, and disfigurement.
The Significant Discrepancy Between the Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation
An extra reason for the higher payouts is that a Jones Act case is fault-based and, as a result, has a much smaller burden of proof compared to a civil lawsuit where the injury occurs on land. For example, if a crane operator is struck by a falling piece of equipment (cement mixer) then they would automatically be qualified to medical benefits under their state workers’ compensation system. But, if their losses require more than their benefits afford, then they would and should attempt to get additional benefits (costs of future care, costs of future lost income, money for pain and suffering, etc.) from additional at-fault parties or depending on the facts of the case get additional money from their employer in the event criminal negligence was the cause of the injury-causing accident. Now, take that same falling piece of equipment scenario and let’s apply it to a rig worker aboard a vessel. In that event, the rig worker would need to show that their employer is at fault to get benefits. Though, they’re entitled to receive far more benefits than in a workers’ comp claim by simply authenticating that the employer was in some form of fashion liable for the injury-causing accident. Thus, the rig worker receives far more money, simply by showing that the employer was only responsible for a small amount for the seaman’s injuries.
The Biggest Difference Between the Longshoreman Act and the Jones Act
The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act grants
workers’ compensation to maritime employees that are not classified as seamen; thus, they are not a member of the crew on a vessel. The LHWCA pertains to shipyard workers, dock workers, and all other workers that are employed near the water but who are not on a vessel. While it is a federal workers’ compensation program, the LHWCA nevertheless presents greater benefits over general claims associated with workers’ compensation.
Maritime Lawyers Protecting Injured Seaman
If unseaworthiness of a vessel or negligence dealing with a crew member, equipment provider, shipowner, vessel investor, in any way shape or form contributed to the injury-causing accident then the Jones Act can be triggered to get a much higher cash settlement as opposed to workers’ compensation cases that occur on land or the maintenance and cure benefits provided under maritime law.
Thus, if you or a loved one were recently hurt while offshore, then it is essential that you get an injury lawyer on your side who is familiar with the Jones Act and other pieces of vital maritime law. At the Testa Law Group, we understand the significance of these types of claims and the injuries associated with them. The Testa Law Group Jones Act lawyers are aggressive lawyers that fight tactically on behalf of our clients who are composed of ship crew members, oil rig employees, and a vast array of other at-sea maritime workers. To understand how we can help you and your family, please call (877) 780-9052 for a free complimentary consultation with an accomplished Jones Act lawyer.
Mr. Testa, a Jones Act with a national practice who represents members of our society who have been seriously injured or killed due to the irresponsible acts of an individual or company. He is licensed to practice law in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida and admitted to practice in the Southern District of Texas and also in the United States Court of International Trade.