Are You Entitled to Compensation Under the Jones Act?
You may be entitled to coverage and compensation under the Jones Act if it can be established that:
You were injured while traveling on navigable waters in or around the United States.
You are a seaman, which is identified as a crew member or an officer of the vessel, who is part of the essential functions of the vessel.
The distinction between the Jones Act and most state statutes for workers' compensation is that you must prove that your employer was negligent in order to be able to obtain monetary or compensatory damages.
However, the Jones Act is very liberal with the definition of negligence and it defines that an injured worker is entitled to compensation if the person can establish that his or her employer had a "scintilla" of negligence. The negligence only has to be slight in order for the injured worker to obtain compensation under the Jones Act.
Differences Between the Jones Act and LHWCA
The Jones Act must be distinguished from the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), which is also a federal statute. The claims under the LHWCA are usually pursued through the U.S. Department of Labor and there are administrative or statutory recoveries that are much different from the Jones Act.
As stated above, in order to seek coverage under the Jones Act, the injured worker must establish that he or she is a seaman and the injury occurred on a vessel that is able to travel navigable waters and that the seaman is, in fact, essential to the operations of the vessel. Typically, on shoremen claims, those individuals are not seaman who are essential to the vessel's operation, although they may be over water when the injury occurs.
Act Quickly to Protect Your Rights
The Jones Act has a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the injury. This deadline suggests that the injured worker's claim must be settled or filed in state or federal court within that three-year deadline or the individual loses his or her right to bring a claim. That is why it is important to act quickly to discuss your Jones Act claim with an attorney experienced in this area of law.
What Benefits Can You Recover Through a Jones Act Claim?
If the person makes a claim under the Jones Act, the employer and/or shipowner is then obligated to provide compensation to the injured worker under what is defined as maintenance and cure benefits:
Maintenance benefits supplement the income the injured worker loses while he or she is off of work due to the injury.
Cure benefits are essentially the obligation to pay medical expenses that arise from the injury. These benefits are paid to the injured worker even though the employer may dispute or deny that it is at fault for the accident.
Along with these damages for maintenance and cure, another significant distinction between the Jones Act and Illinois workers' compensation statutes is that under the Jones Act, the injured worker can obtain compensation for pain and suffering, which is typically not allowed in state workers' compensation recoveries.
The investigation and/or litigation of a Jones Act claim is very similar to any other type of negligence cause of action. If you are injured and you believe that your injury would entitle you to compensation under the Jones Act, you must still report the injury to your supervisor, and usually there is an accident report that is completed. You must still seek the appropriate care and report to your doctors the nature of how your injury occurred, so that you can establish that there is a causal relationship between your injury and the accident itself. If you fail to do these things correctly, your claim for compensation under the Jones Act can be easily denied.
Discuss Your Jones Act Case With Strong Law Offices
If you feel that you are entitled to benefits under the Jones Act or have suffered an injury while you were a crew member of a ship or a vessel within the last three years, please feel free to contact Strong Law Offices, and we would be more than happy to give you a consultation regarding your rights and your ability to obtain benefits pursuant to the federal Jones Act.
From our law offices in Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington, and Decatur, we represent clients throughout the state. Call 1-800-234-0090 for a free case evaluation.
When You Have Been Injured, Get Strong — We Are On Your Side
Jones Act Lawyers in Illinois
The Jones Act is a federal statute and is essentially the workers' compensation statute or law for seamen who are injured while working on a ship or vessel. The experienced lawyers at Strong Law Offices handle Jones Act claims for injured individuals throughout Illinois.