Jones Act Lawyers Explain What Injured Seamen Need to Know about Workers’ Comp and Insurance
If you work offshore and you have been injured on the job, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Do you file a Jones Act claim? Do you file for workers’ comp? Do you need to deal with your insurance company? If you think you qualify as a Jones Act seaman, here’s what you need to know:
Jones Act and Workers’ Comp: What’s the Difference?
While maintenance and cure are often referred to as Jones Act workers’ comp benefits, Jones Act claims and workers comp claims are actually very different. In order to collect benefits for your on-the-job injury, you need to know which type of claim to file, and you need to know what steps to take (and when to take them).
5 Key Facts about Jones Act Claims for Seaman
1. The Jones Act Applies to Seamen
The Jones Act is a federal law that applies exclusively to “seamen”. Since seamen work in navigable waters, they generally are not eligible for state workers comp benefits.
2. The Jones Act Provides for No-Fault Maintenance and Cure Benefits
Under the Jones Act, injured workers can file for maintenance and cure benefits on a “no-fault” basis. Maintenance and cure benefits cover injured seamen’s medical bills and their basic living expenses onboard.
3. Seamen Can Sue for Full Compensation Under the Jones Act
Injured seamen can sue their employers under the Jones Act in many cases. The Jones Act allows seamen to recover full compensation when their injuries result from unseaworthiness or Jones Act negligence.
4. Jones Act Seamen Have Up to Three Years to File a Claim (in Most Cases)
In most cases, seamen have up to three years to file a claim under the Jones Act. However, the statute of limitations for Jones Act claims can be shorter in some cases.
5. Appealing a Jones Act Denial Involves Going to Court
If your employer (or its Jones Act insurance company) denies your claim, you may need to take your case to court. In order to do so, you will need an experienced Jones Act lawyer who is familiar with the details of your case.
5 Key Facts about Workers Comp Claims
1. Workers Comp Applies to Land-Based Employees
State workers comp laws apply to land-based employees. The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers comp law that applies to some land-based maritime workers, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) applies to employees who work on fixed rigs and platforms.
2. Workers Comp Provides for No-Fault Medical, Disability and Vocational Benefits
The no-fault benefits available through workers’ comp are greater than those available under the Jones Act. Typically, workers comp laws cover injured employees’ medical bills, up to two-thirds of their weekly wages, and vocational assistance (if needed).
3. Employees Typically Cannot Sue Their Employers for Full Compensation
Unlike the Jones Act, workers comp laws typically do not allow employees to sue their employers for full compensation. Employers have “immunity” against most claims under these statutes.
4. The Timelines for Workers Comp Claims Vary
Different states have different timelines for workers’ comp claims. In some states, injured employees must report their injuries “as soon as possible” after getting injured.
5. There are Administrative Procedures for Appealing Workers Comp Denials
If your employer (or its workers’ comp insurance company) denies your claim, you may be able to file a claim with your state’s workers’ compensation commission instead of going directly to court.
FAQs: Workers Comp and the Jones Act for Seaman
If I qualify as a Jones Act Seaman, Can I File for Jones Act Benefits and Workers’ Comp Benefits?
No, you are only eligible to file a claim under the Jones Act or file a claim for workers comp. You cannot file claims for both. Our Jones Act lawyers can tell you which type of claim you need to file and seek maximum compensation on your behalf.
What if I Work Onboard a U.S. Government or Military Vessel?
If you are employed by a private company and work onboard a U.S. government or military vessel, you can still file a claim under the Jones Act. However, you have less time to file your claim (two years instead of three), and there are additional rules and restrictions that apply. Our lawyers can assist with your government Jones Act claim.
Do I Need to See a Ship Doctor or Company Doctor in Order to Qualify for Benefits?
It depends. Under the Jones Act, you have the right to choose your own doctor. If you needed emergency treatment and saw your ship doctor, you can still see your own doctor once you are back on land. If you qualify for workers comp benefits instead of Jones Act benefits, whether you can see your own doctor depends on your state’s law. Similar to the Jones Act, the LHWCA and OCSLA allow injured workers to see doctors of their choosing.
Talk to a Jones Act Seaman Lawyer about Your Rights for Free
Do you have questions about what you need to do after getting injured on the job? If so, our Jones Act lawyers can explain everything you need to know. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at your convenience, call 800-468-4878 or request an appointment online now.