How Is The Jones Act Different from Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to land-based workers at a state level and are meant to provide financial coverage for employees that became injured or sick as a result of their daily job duties. Workers receive payment for their medical expenses and a percentage of their working wages until they reach maximum medical improvement, or apply for long-term disability. This benefit is provided regardless of fault – even if the employee contributed in part to the accident; however, employees cannot sue their employers in return for receiving the benefits.
The Jones Act, on the other hand, covers employees of seaworthy vessels and grants them the right to sue their employer for compensation following an injury. Not every injured sailor needs to resort to a lawsuit, but when taking the case to the courtroom becomes necessary, the Jones Act does not provide immunity to the employer, unlike what happens with a land-based employer under workers’ comp.
Who Bears the Burden of Proof Under The Jones Act?
Workers’ compensation benefits are distributed to injured employees regardless of fault, but Jones Act workers are expected to carry the burden of proof to demonstrate their eligibility to receive compensation. They may be required to show evidence that they are covered by the Jones Act, that the employer acted with negligence or recklessness and thus lead to the accident, and that the injury or illness resulting from the accident was a direct consequence of the employer’s negligence. If the sailor is found to be partially responsible for the accident, he or she will still receive compensation minus whatever percentage of fault has been attributed to them.
Is There a Limit on How Much Money I May Receive Under The Jones Act?
There is no cap for the amount of money you may receive for your Jones Act claim. As stated above, the injured sailor will need to provide evidence of damages, including but not limited to medical records documenting the injury and its consequences, reports proving the need for future care or additional surgeries (when applicable), and financial papers documenting the cost of current and future medical care, physical therapy or rehab, as well as daily living costs and lost income.
Why Do I Need an Attorney for a Jones Act Claim?
Unlike in a workers’ comp claim, a work injury claim under the Jones Act is more easily comparable to a personal injury case in a civil court, because the injured sailor is required to produce evidence to support their case and show that the employer may have contributed to the accident. Furthermore, a Jones Act claim entails complex maritime law rules and a lot of paperwork.
An attorney can help speed up the process and identify opportunities for seeking additional compensation when possible. It is in your best interest to let an attorney handle your Jones Act claim, so you can avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary delays while knowing your case is being managed by a professional. Gideon Asen serves injured sailors all across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We are ready to help you! Call our office to get started.