Workers Comp and Jones Act claims are not the same so don't make that mistake. While they may appear similar in some respects, Jones Act settlements are much greater than Workers Comp and often life-changing. You must be careful about making claims under Workers Comp laws. If you file for Workers Comp or other benefits, it's possible to lose your right to ever pursue a Jones Act claim.
Although state laws vary, traditional Workers Comp laws are only designed to provide medical care, disability payments and income benefits to employees hurt on the job. Benefits are usually paid through the employers Workers Comp insurance policy. Workers Comp is designed to keep you financially afloat until you're healthy enough to go back to work after an injury. Workers' Comp settlements, if any, usually provide for relatively small settlements and cover little more than lost wages and medical bills. Workers Comp death benefits usually provide small weekly payments for the life of the surviving spouse.
The Jones Act provides very high cash settlements, compared to Workers Comp, when either the slightest negligence or the unseaworthiness of a vessel. Some would say that "slight negligence" means no negligence. Jones Act settlements should cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of household services and even your loss of enjoyment of life. The Ogletree Abbott Law Firm is usually able to advance money on future settlements for Jones Act claims but it depends on the laws of your state. The State of Texas allows for advancing money on Jones Act cases. Many states prohibit advancing money on Workers Comp claims.
Who is Covered Under The Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a federal law that provides for claims by workers who are injured while in service to a vessel on navigable waters. Definition includes offshore oil drilling rigs and most barges, even those engaged in dredging. You may also be covered even if your injury occurred while in transport to the vessel, or while the vessel was docked. The term vessel includes boats, ships, barges, tugs, cruise ships, dredges, mobile offshore drilling units, helicopters and many others. You could be covered while staying in a hotel, eating in a restaurant, or if you are traveling under orders if you remain under the direction of your employer. If you were injured in the course of your employment and your injury occurred on or near the water, you should consult with an attorney knowledgeable about maritime law to determine if your injury is covered under the Jones Act.
Be careful, some employers will try to keep their injured workers from knowing their legal rights. Maritime employers may tell their injured workers to file a Workers Comp claim instead of a Jones Act claim. You should always contact a lawyer before you file any claim. If an employer is unwilling to fairly compensate workers, a lawsuit can be filed in federal district court seeking damages, however most Jones Act cases are settled prior to trial.
Longshore – Harbor worker Claims
Jones Act claims are also different from claims brought under the Longshore-Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. Unlike Workers Comp and Alongshore-Harbor Workers' cases, there is no state or federal agency involved in the administration of Jones Act claims. LS-HW claims are similar to Workers Comp but the claims are handled before the U.S. Department of Labor.
What You Should Do Now
If you have been injured on the job and have any doubt whether you have a Jones Act claim, please call us at 1 800 JonesAct, toll-free from anywhere in the world. Our attorneys are qualified to handle Jones Act cases and are available to speak with you confidentially about your injury and answer any questions. We provide quality legal representation worldwide and strive to help you feel as if we are in your own neighborhood regardless of where you work or live. You will be provided with personal, attentive service and your calls will always be returned the same day that you call. Call 1-800-JonesAct (800-779-4950). We are here to help you and your family with your workers comp claims.