Many veterans of the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and other branches of the U.S. military enter into maritime occupations after leaving the commands. Like all workers in these occupations, even highly-experienced military veterans can suffer injuries on the job. If you are a veteran and you have been injured working in the civil maritime industry, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that applies to “seamen” who get injured on the job.
As a Veteran, You May Be Eligible for Jones Act Compensation
In order to be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, you must qualify as a “seaman”. This is based entirely on your current occupation—not any prior experience you may have as a military veteran. You qualify as a seaman if:
- You work onboard a vessel “in navigation” (this does not necessarily mean that the vessel is actually navigating, but that it is afloat, operable and capable of moving);
- Your job duties contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission; and,
- A sufficient amount of your work time is spent contributing to the vessel’s function or mission that you have a “substantial connection” in terms of the duration and nature of your contributions.
While veterans in certain types of occupations will typically qualify as seamen, having a specific job title (i.e. captain, crewmember or ship mechanic) isn’t necessarily enough on its own. As a result, if you have been injured on the job, you will want to speak with an attorney about whether you can file a Jones Act claim —or if you may need to pursue another option.
Understanding the Three Types of Jones Act Claims
There are three ways that seamen can collect financial compensation for job-related injuries under the Jones Act. In order to determine which type of claim you can file (and to make sure you do everything necessary to collect the compensation you deserve), you will need to work with an experienced Jones Act lawyer. The three types of Jones Act claims are:
- Maintenance and Cure – Maintenance and cure are “no fault” benefits. However, these benefits are limited, and they won’t cover all of the costs of your job-related injury.
- Jones Act Negligence – If your employer’s (or a co-worker’s) negligence is to blame for your injury, an attorney will be able to help you file a claim for full compensation.
- Unseaworthiness – Even if your employer wasn’t negligent, if you were injured due to an unseaworthy condition on your vessel, this provides grounds to pursue a claim for full compensation as well.
Talk to a Jones Act Lawyer about Your Legal Rights as a Veteran in the Maritime Industry
Do you have questions about your legal rights under the Jones Act? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced Jones Act lawyer in confidence, call 800-468-4878 or tell us how you would like to be contacted online today.