For years, worker’s compensation laws have protected the rights of employees across the country. But for maritime employees, those legal waters have been much more murky and difficult to understand. The Jones Act has been put in place by the federal government to help these types of workers receive the compensation they deserve for injuries they have received while on the job. But when it comes to actually filing a claim, there may be some serious questions that you need assistance answering. Here are some basic points about the Jones Act and how you should go about filing a claim.
What is the Jones Act?
First, the Jones Act is a federal statute that covers a variety of issues with maritime law such as what types of ships can take part in coastwise trade. Another issue that it covers is who qualifies as a maritime employee for the purposes of filing legal claims.
Who actually qualifies for The Jones Act?
The Jones Act covers a seaman in operation on a vessel that is considered “in navigation.” A seaman here means that the person is a crew member or captain of a sailing ship who spends a significant amount of time working on such a vessel. In this case, the vessel must be afloat and capable of moving and it should be on navigable waters. For instance, in this case, an offshore drilling platform may be afloat, but since it is not capable of moving, then the employees are not covered under the Jones Act. If a person works on ships as a longshoreman or harbor worker or is a crew member of a drilling platform, then they are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Almost any significant body of water that can be used for commercial trafficking can be considered “navigable waters.”
What types of injuries are covered under the Jones Act?
These provisions under the Jones Act are in place to protect employees by putting a burden on the employer as to maintaining a safe working environment. Any type of injury can be covered if they are the direct result of employer negligence and unsafe working conditions. This might include an injury from broken or improperly maintained equipment or from employers not giving the employee the necessary equipment. It also covers improper training and even injuries caused by other employees if they assault a co-worker.
How do I file a claim?
Claims under the Jones Act can be filed in either state or federal court, but it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney before doing so. This is because if you file in federal court, you can choose either a judge or jury trial. But if you file in a state court, your employer can opt for either a judge or jury trial. In some cases, a jury trial can be more unpredictable, so depending on the facts of your case, you may wish to limit yourself to a federal claim and go for a judge trial. Although it may be a good idea to file your claim immediately, you have up to three years to file from the date of injury.
If you have worked on a ship and have been injured, then it is in your best interest to file a claim as soon as possible. But, if you still have questions or wish to have a review of your case, then you should contact the law firm of Wolf & Pravato. We can assess your case and help guide you in filing your claim.