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If you work in the maritime industry and are not acquainted with the Jones Act, you need to be. While most Americans have grown up familiar with Workers’ Compensation Laws, when you work in the maritime industry and spend at least 30% of your time on the water these laws no longer apply to you and instead any claims that you may have, have to be filed under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261), which is better known as the Jones Act.

While both sets of laws were set in place to help assure just compensation to employees that were either injured or became ill on the job, they operate very differently and have dissimilar benefits and standards that must be met for a claim to be upheld.

Who Can File a Claim

Under either set of laws, an employee can file a claim as soon as they have met the time requirements set down under the statute. The major difference in the two, though, is that with a workers compensation claim, it doesn’t matter if the accident or illness is the fault of the company, a coworker or the employee themselves a claim can be filed for compensation.

Under the Jones Act, an injured party must show negligence on the part of his or her employer to file a claim.

Common examples of Negligence Covered by the Jones Act include:

  • Lack of proper training and safety gear
  • Failure to perform checkups and repairs on equipment and parts
  • If the decks are slippery and lack the proper material to avoid dangerous conditions
  • Failure to provide a seaworthy ship

Differences in Compensation under the Jones Act

Under most states Worker’s Comp Laws an employee’s medical expenses will be covered and a portion of their wages will be provided as temporary disability provided they are out of work the required amount of time.

Beyond this, no other damages are recoverable. Under the law, the employee cannot file a lawsuit against the company, its employees or its insurance provider even if negligence was involved.

Under the Jones Act, however, the law allows for the recovery of all lost wages, medical expenses, all future medical costs and income losses as well as pain and suffering.

Clearly there are more avenues for compensation open to those who can file a claim under the Jones Act, versus those landlocked souls who must make due with Worker’s Comp Claims.

But it is also much harder to meet the necessary proof of negligence requirements, of the Jones Act, than to receive the automatic benefits of Worker’s Comp and as with most things in the law; a case is rarely cut and dried.

The laws that apply on land are very different from those that exist at sea or even on navigable waterways within the country and it will take an experienced attorney, with specialized knowledge, to be able to advise you of your rights and protect your best interests under these laws.

That is the main reason that it is of major importance for you to contact a personal injury attorney with experience in maritime and admiralty law if you work on any type of vessel and have been injured or experienced an unexplained illness. You need an attorney who can advise you of all of the compensation that you are entitled to, under the law and fight to see that you receive it.