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The Jones Act: How Do Maritime Workers Get Compensated for Their Injuries?

The Jones Act protects all workers that contribute to maritime commerce in case of injury during work, from the sailors and the captain of a ship to the dock workers.

River, barge, and dock workers in Missouri face risks at work every day. There are number of hazards they encounter such as slick surfaces and working with and around heavy machinery and equipment. Unlike other employees, injured maritime workers are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under either state or federal law.

An injured seaman is able to sue his or her employer for negligence under a federal law called the Jones Act. They may also be able to sue the owner of the vessel where they were injured. In addition, the injured seaman may be entitled to receive something called maintenance and cure, regardless of who is at fault.

What Is the Jones Act?

Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act is a federal law meant to regulate maritime commerce in the U.S. and protect maritime workers when they suffer injuries at work. It covers more clauses than regular compensation law, enabling maritime workers to seek damages from the shipowner or the captain of the crew.

Are You Eligible to Receive Compensation Through the Jones Act?

If workers compensation is available for just about anyone who works legally, the Jones Act only applies to “seamen”, and there are special conditions you must meet to get this status. You may think that only a ship’s crew can be considered “seamen”, but if you work on and around water and at least 30% of your working time is spent in service of a vessel, then you are eligible too for Jones Act compensation when you get hurt.

The Jones Act protects all workers that contribute to maritime commerce in case of injury during work, from the sailors and the captain of a ship to the workers that repair bridges, for example.

The Specific Regulations of the Jones Act

If you are familiar with the regular workers’ compensation law, but you want to find out more about the Jones Act compensation, here are some of the differences between the two sets of laws.

Jones Act, unlike workers compensation claims, takes the employer’s conduct into account. Therefore, if the ship’s owner, captain or the rest of the crew has caused your injuries by negligence or malintent, you can claim greater compensation for them. The court will decide how much of the incident was caused by the employer and how much by you. Based on that, you will receive a certain percentage of your claim.

Under the Jones Act, you can also claim benefits to cover your medical expenses and the cost of living while you don’t have a job. These expenses will not always be covered by regular workers compensation claims.

If you were injured because of lack of maintenance of the ship, you can also file a claim to deem the “unseaworthiness” of the ship, and the ship’s owner will be liable for your injuries, as they are obliged by the Jones Act to offer safe working conditions on their vessels.

Work Injury Lawyers in St. Louis

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident at port or on a barge, contact a the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. For more than 20 years, we have helped injured workers receive the compensation and benefits they need to move forward with their lives. Whatever injury you have suffered at work, we will investigate what happened and help you find out who is responsible.

Call us today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online case evaluation form to request a free consultation.

Updated: June 4, 2019