Essential Information About Jones Act Protection

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If you work in the maritime industry, you have a few more options than workers’ compensation, should you become sick or injured. Instead of filing for the usual workers’ compensation, you are entitled to more extensive coverage thanks to a federal statute called the Jones Act. In this article, we will offer information about what makes a Jones Act claim as well as cover the statute of limitations for a valid case.  

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a law that was designed for the well-being of maritime commerce.

Compensation is not solely dependent on becoming injured while on the job, however. You are entitled to compensation if you become sick or injured due to poor maintenance and safety precautions committed by the owner of the vessel that you work on. In fact, the Jones Act (sometimes referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) is designed to protect employees who regularly face dangerous work while at sea in order to support American maritime commerce.

How Does the Jones Act Support Workers?

Rather than simply covering medical care, the Jones Act offers compensation for a broader scope of problems and benefits. Coverage may last longer if it can be proven that the benefits are needed. Compensation under the Jones Act covers:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Medical care
  • Lost wages INCLUDING loss of future earning capacity
  • Living costs while in recovery
  • Mental anguish

As you can see, because more recovery support is available, injured maritime workers tend to receive more financial payouts than standard workers’ compensation. In fact, if an employer refuses to provide the compensation that is due to an injured worker, the Jones Act allows an employee to seek additional punitive damages.

Common Questions About the Jones Act

How much time does an injured worker have to file a lawsuit under the Jones Act?

Generally speaking, you have three years from the time of the accident. However, there is more to it than that. The time limit can change if injuries are discovered later. In that case, the statute begins in relation to its discovery. Keep in mind, too, that the injured individual must first submit a claim to the government and then allow six months to pass before the actual lawsuit can be filed. The clock is ticking throughout this process, so although you are allowed three years, you should understand that you are likely to have two years left after you are given the go-ahead from the government regarding your claim.

Does the Jones Act cover all maritime employees?

No, just seamen that meet certain qualifications, but the other maritime workers are covered under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The Jones Act doesn’t cover every single seaman, either.  Certain criteria must be met:

  • They must perform work that supports the work of the vessel
  • They must work with the vessel while it is in operation
  • They must work 30% of the time on a United States craft en route

What qualifies as unseaworthiness?

This refers to the safety of a vessel and how seaworthy it is, and it is directed towards vessel owners. The Jones Act entitles workers to a vessel that is well run and maintained, and there are a variety of conditions that determine unseaworthiness, including:

  • The appropriate amount of competent workers
  • Various safety requirements such as guardrails, fire extinguishers, proper storage, etc.
  • Adequate food provisions
  • Adequate living space

Jones Act cases are not always easy to navigate due to the amount of proof that is required, and qualified legal representation can make all the difference for a successful outcome to your case. Contact a Jones Act lawyer today so that you can get the compensation that you are entitled to.

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