Can Jones Act Lawyers Help Injured Contract Workers?
Many individuals who work offshore are contract workers. These individuals face the same risks as employees, which means that they should have the same rights when they get injured on the job. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. While many contract workers qualify for protection under the Jones Act, some do not. That does not, however, mean you are not without legal options after a maritime injury. The Willis Law Firm is here to help evaluate your claim and outline your options.
Who is Considered a Contract Worker in the Maritime Industry?
For legal purposes, a contractor is defined as someone who does not have an employment relationship with the company for which he or she works. In the offshore context, most contractors fall into one of two categories: (i) independent contractors who are onboard for purposes unrelated to the vessel’s mission, and (ii) contract workers who are not employed by the vessel owner but who are on board to serve the vessel’s purpose.
When are Contractors Protected Under the Jones Act?
To qualify for the protection of the Jones Act, a contract worker must satisfy two main criteria. First, the contract worker must be employed by a company, even if that company is not the vessel owner on which he or she is working. Second, the contract worker must qualify as a seaman. If you are a true independent contractor (i.e., you work for yourself without management or supervision from anyone else), then the Jones Act most likely does not apply to you. However, you may have other options for seeking financial compensation if you have been injured onboard a vessel in navigation.
Many contract workers qualify for Jones Act benefits under the “borrowed service doctrine.” Rather than hiring their own employees directly, many vessel owners will engage contractors that have workers who are available to provide their services onboard. If you receive a regular paycheck and a W-2 from one company and work onboard a vessel that is owned by another, you may be entitled to the protections afforded by the Jones Act.
What are Contract Workers’ Rights Under the Jones Act?
If you are a contract worker and you qualify for protection under the Jones Act, you have the same rights as any other seaman who gets injured on the job. This means that you have the right to receive maintenance and cure benefits, and you also have the right to sue the vessel’s owner for negligence. Since maintenance and cure benefits can be pretty minimal, it will often be important for contract workers to file both types of claims.
To protect your legal rights, you will need to hire an experienced Jones Act attorney. Many companies do not have a clear understanding of how the Jones Act applies to contract workers, and, as a result, many contract workers struggle to collect the maintenance and cure benefits they deserve. You will also need an attorney to help you file a negligence claim against the vessel’s owner—in addition to any other claims you may have available.
Talk to a Lawyer about Your Jones Act Rights for Free
If you’ve been injured offshore and have questions about your rights under the Jones Act or workers compensation, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. Call 800-468-4878 or request an appointment online to speak with an attorney in confidence as soon as possible.