Maritime workers have two options to file claims after an injury on the job. Seamen can file claims under the Jones Act, while other maritime workers are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The primary difference between Jones Act and LHWCA claims is fault determination, but there are other important differences to note.If you are a longshoreman, mariner, or another offshore maritime worker, it’s important to know your legal rights. Understanding the difference between the Jones Act and workers’ compensation can help you seek fair compensation following a work-related injury.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act was established in 1920 to regulate the transport of goods between U.S. ports. The Jones Act applies only to maritime workers who qualify as seamen (those who work on a ship or fleet of ships and spend more than 30 percent of their working time onboard). All other maritime workers are covered under the LHWCA. Section 30104 of the Jones Act establishes that a master or crewmember injured or killed on the job can bring a personal injury lawsuit against their employer under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Unlike workers’ compensation claims under LHWCA, you must prove that someone else’s negligence caused your workplace injury.
The Jones Act and Fault Determination
Since a Jones Act claim is considered a civil personal injury lawsuit, the worker must be able to prove fault, establishing that the company, ship owner, captain, crew, or other workers acted negligently. If you are a seaman injured on the job, you must establish that:
- The responsible party acted in a manner that was careless or reckless.
- Their careless or reckless actions directly caused your maritime work injury.
- Your job-related injuries caused you physical, financial, or mental damages.
An employment lawyer who handles maritime employment cases can help gather this evidence.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Don’t Require Proof of Negligence
Unlike the Jones Act, maritime workers who qualify for the LHWCA can claim benefits for a work injury, regardless of fault, and don’t have to establish that anyone was responsible. However, you must still prove that the injury was work-related.A workers’ compensation claim can be proven with timesheets, photos of the accident scene, witness statements, medical records, and expert testimony. A workers’ compensation attorney in your area can help you gather evidence to support your workers’ comp claim.
Claiming Damages Through the Jones Act vs Workers’ Compensation
When you suffer injuries at work as a maritime employee, you have the right to pursue damages for your losses. Whether you file a lawsuit under the Jones Act or a workers’ compensation claim through LHWCA, you can pursue compensation for certain losses.
Jones Act Damage Claims
If you sue your employer under the Jones Act, you could seek:
- Lost current and future income
- Reduced income capacity
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
If your injury prevents you from working in the future, you can claim damages consistent with the projected value of your lost future earnings. A personal injury attorney who handles maritime employment claims can help you determine which damages apply.
Workers’ Comp Damage Claims
Workers’ comp claims through the LHWCA also allow you to seek compensation for medical treatment and lost wages, as well as lost income if your injuries prevent you from performing your previous job or advancing your career. The LHWCA does not, however, provide benefits for pain and suffering, mental anguish, or reduced quality of life.LHWCA also allows you to seek temporary or permanent partial or total disability (your treating doctor must provide detailed proof that your injury prevents you from working temporarily or permanently). A maritime workers’ comp attorney can guide you through the claims process to ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve.
Wrongful Death Claims for Maritime Workers
If you lost someone you love in a maritime work accident, you could seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. If your deceased loved one was covered under the Jones Act, a wrongful death attorney can help you seek compensation, including funeral and burial costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.If your loved one qualified for LHWCA, you could seek death benefits for a percentage of their lost wages. If your loved one was receiving disability payments when they passed away from the work-related injury, you could still receive disability benefits as the deceased’s family member.
How An Attorney Helps With Your Jones Act or Workers’ Compensation Claim
Whether you file a lawsuit under the Jones Act or submit an LHWCA workers’ comp claim, hiring a lawyer is wise.An attorney can help you determine whether you should pursue your case under the Jones Act or LHWCA.
To protect your legal right to compensation after a maritime work injury, a lawyer from our firm can:
- Gather evidence to prove your claim
- Complete forms and legal filings
- Negotiate for maximum benefits
- Appeal declined workers’ comp claims
- Represent you in hearings and at trial
- Handle information requests, phone calls, and other correspondence
It is critical to partner with an attorney who has experience handling maritime work injuries. Maritime injury attorneys often take cases on a contingency basis, so you do not have to worry about legal costs while you recover from your injuries.
Reach Out to a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Help With Your Jones Act or LHWCA Claim
Maritime employment law is complicated, so you benefit from working with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney who handles cases like yours. At KJT Law Group, we have extensive experience working with maritime employees subject to the Jones Act and workers’ compensation laws.
We can help you determine which laws apply to your case and seek compensation for your maritime workplace injury. Contact our employment attorneys today to learn more or call us at (818) 507-8525