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I was Injured on a Barge: Do I File Under Workers’ Compensation or the Jones Act?

Barge Injuries Jun 19, 2017

If you were injured in a barge accident, there is a good chance that you will need to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Between your medical bills and lost income, your injuries could take a significant toll on your finances, and you will need to make sure that you have your expenses covered as much as possible.

But, how do you claim compensation for your maritime or offshore injury? Are you eligible for workers’ compensation? Or, do you need to file a claim under the Jones Act?

State Workers’ Compensation Laws Do Not Apply to Offshore Workers

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to make it easier for workers to collect compensation for job-related injuries. They do so by making limited, “no-fault” benefits available to injured workers regardless of the cause of their injuries. While this no-fault system makes it easier for many workers to receive at least some compensation from their employers, it prevents employees who have been harmed by their employers’ negligence from securing full financial compensation for their losses (including full wage replacement and compensation for pain and suffering).

However, since workers’ compensation laws exist at the state level, they do not apply to most accidents that occur on vessels or most offshore. As a result, for maritime and offshore workers, securing compensation for job-related injuries commonly involves filing a claim under the Jones Act.

Understanding Your Rights Under the Jones Act

The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that serves as a substitute for workers’ compensation. In order words, you are either eligible for workers’ compensation, or you are eligible to file under the Jones Act. You cannot be eligible for both.

But, the benefits available under the Jones Act differ from those available through workers’ compensation. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can file claims to recover both:

  • Maintenance and cure benefits that provide limited coverage for medical bills and living expenses; and
  • Full financial compensation for injuries resulting in whole or in part from their employers’ negligence.

While maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act provide less coverage than the benefits available through workers’ compensation, it is the second type of Jones Act claim that is the real benefit to offshore workers and other maritime employees. Remember, under state workers’ compensation laws, injured employees can almost never recover full compensation for their losses. But, as an injured seaman, the Jones Act provides the opportunity to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Of course, in order to recover full compensation, you need to be able to prove that your employer was negligent. While this is not easy, the Jones Act makes it easier than proving negligence in other types of injury claims. Under the Jones Act, if your employer was negligent in any way in causing your injuries, you may be eligible to pursue a claim for full compensation.

Contact Barge Injury Lawyer David P. Willis to Learn More

If you were injured on a barge and would like to learn more about your rights under the Jones Act, contact the Willis Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. Licensed in Texas and New York, maritime lawyer David P. Willis represents injured barge workers nationwide. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case, call us at 1-800-GOT HURT or submit a request online today.

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