Hurt at sea, but unsure whether to file your claim as a Jones Act lawsuit or regular workers’ compensation? This federal statute, signed into law in 1920, provides protection for maritime workers who are injured or killed on the job. This law, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, does not cover every person working on a vessel. To be covered by this law, mariners must spend at least thirty percent of their time working on a vessel. There are exceptions to this rule, however. If a person was sailing in passable waters but spent less than thirty percent of their time on that particular ship (barge, boat, liner, tanker), then they are covered under this particular law.
What do you do when injured on the job while working on a vessel? Most people are encouraged to seek help through workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance and is typically regulated on a state-by-state basis. This compensation does not allow a worker to file a claim against their employer for negligence. Any medical bills incurred due to the injury will be paid for, and the worker may receive monetary benefits but at a fraction of their regular wage. The Merchant Marine Act not only provides medical care and lost wages (also called maintenance and cure), but also allows the aggrieved party to pursue claims against their employer or ship owner for negligence that led to their injury.
Not every lawyer is versed in maritime law and is suitable to file a Jones Act lawsuit on your behalf. Admiralty law contains a complex set of regulations, and filing formal complaints dealing with injuries at sea requires someone who is trained and experienced in maritime law. Finding the right lawyer to handle your claim can make or break the case. A Jones Act lawsuit is not a regular claim against an employer. It requires unique knowledge, training, and experience to win your case and earn you the compensation you may deserve.