Seafaring workers and many of those who work on docks, harbors or piers are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws. However, they may be able to file injury claims under The Jones Act or Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. These laws are complex, with numerous eligibility requirements and exclusions. If you are unsure if you may have a valid claim, our Lansing marine injury lawyers are ready to review your situation in a free consultation to determine if you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, living expenses and other damages.
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Jay Trucks and Associates has been representing injured Michigan residents for more than 30 years and we have an established track record – more than $500 million recovered on behalf of our clients. The consultation comes with no obligation to hire our firm. If we validate your claim and you hire us to represent you, there are no upfront fees.
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What You Need to Know About The Jones Act
Workers’ compensation laws do not cover injured seamen. They are instead covered by The Jones Act, which allows you to take private legal action against an employer or a co-worker who contributed to your injury, such as a master, mate, engineer or pilot.
The Jones Act does not provide for a no-fault system like workers’ compensation laws. Workers who file claims under this federal law need to prove negligence, willful misconduct, neglect or refusal to follow laws on safe navigation of sea vessels.
Am I Eligible for a Jones Act Claim?
This is something you should discuss with a licensed attorney, as this is a complex question to answer. Our Lansing marine injury lawyers have comprehensive knowledge of The Jones Act and are ready to discuss this with you in a free consultation. We are also available to answer your questions and discuss legal options.
Generally, seamen who spend at least 30 percent of their time as a crewmember or captain of a vessel in navigation are eligible to file Jones Act claims. Eligible employees must work toward the mission of the vessel, which is why administrative staff are not eligible to file these claims.
If you worked aboard one of the following vessels and contributed to the vessel’s mission, you may be eligible to file a claim:
- Fishing boat
- Drill ship
- Oil tanker
- Diving support craft
- Cruise ships
- Charter boats
- Jack-up rigs
- Cargo ships
The vessel you were on must have been in navigation, which means it must have been in operation, afloat and capable of moving on waters where travel is possible. Vessels can be stationary or tied up at a dock if they have a sail or motor that is in operation. The vessel must be in the water though.
In navigation also means the vessel is on waters where travel is possible, such as landlocked lakes that connect to other states like Lake Michigan or Lake Erie.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Jones Act Claim?
Generally, negligence refers to the failure of your employer to take steps to create a reasonably safe environment for you and your coworkers. There are many examples of negligence, such as:
- Not storing fire extinguishers on the ship
- Failing to maintain equipment in working order
- Leaving floors slippery or wet
- Not doing safety inspections
- Failing to provide equipment to allow workers to do their jobs safely
- Failing to provide proper training for crewmembers
- Not installing handrails on ladders or staircases
- Not creating evacuation procedures
- Not taking steps to help ensure crewmembers follow safety protocols
Your Lansing maritime injury attorney must prove your employer’s or a crewmember’s negligence played some role in your injury. Even if it was a small role, you may have a valid claim.
Schedule a free consultation. Ph: (800) 762-8623.
Can Ship Owners Be Held Liable for Injuries?
Your attorney would need to show the ship was unseaworthy, meaning it does not contain safe and appropriate equipment to allow workers to do their jobs safely. You need to show a connection between the unsafe condition and your injury. For example, maybe safeguards were not in place with dangerous machinery.
This is a complex issue you can discuss with one of the licensed attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates.
What Benefits Does The Jones Act Provide?
The Jones Act allows injured seamen to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. The Jones Act provides coverage for reasonable and necessary medical bills, including the cost of traveling to appointments.
The Jones Act also provide maintenance payments covering your living expenses while you recover from your injury. Examples of this may include rent, mortgage payments, homeowners insurance payments, cost of food and property taxes. Courts have ruled that employers should provide for the full cost of your necessary living expenses during your recovery.
Once your recovery is complete, benefits are no longer provided.
Who is Not Covered by The Jones Act?
The Jones Act does not cover those who work on harbors and are not often on vessels in navigable waters. Many of these workers are instead covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
This law covers a variety of employees who work at docks, piers, wharves, terminals and locations where vessels are loaded and unloaded, including:
- Ship repairmen
- Ship breakers
- Harbor construction workers
- Those involved in transporting goods from one ship to another or to another location, including truck drivers
Many different kinds of workers are excluded from coverage:
- Workers covered by The Jones Act
- Workers covered by the workers’ compensation system
- Aquaculture workers
- Workers who unload vessels that do not weigh 18 tons or more
- Employees who help build ships that are not 65 feet long or longer
- Workers who were injured due to intoxication
- People working for suppliers or vendors who are doing work that is normally done by another company
- Secretaries, data processing workers and other types of clerical staff
Injuries or diseases that happen in the course of employment are generally covered, along with injuries caused by intentional actions of another party.
Types of Compensation in LHWCA Claims
LHWCA claims are similar to workers’ compensation claims, as victims may be eligible to receive partial or total disability benefits, along with coverage for medical costs and vocational rehabilitation.
Disability benefits are not provided unless your disability lasts at least three days. When the disability lasts 14 days, you can receive compensation for those first three days of disability.
The LHWCA says total disability benefits equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage, with a cap of 50 percent of national average weekly wages. Partial disability benefits equal two-thirds of lost earning capacity.
When workers permanently lose the use of arms, hands, legs, feet, toes, fingers, eyes or ears, they can receive benefits for a certain number of weeks, based on the LHWCA schedule of benefits.
If your loved one died from a work-related injury, you may be eligible for death benefits. These benefits cannot be more than 200 percent of the national average weekly wage.
Contact a Lansing Marine Injury Lawyer to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you were injured at sea or while working on a harbor, you should seriously consider seeking legal representation, as pursuing compensation can be complicated. The attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates are prepared to handle the legal process for you, while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
The consultation is free and comes with no obligation, so there is no risk to you. We do not bill for our services unless you receive compensation at the end of the legal process.
Our lawyers understand how difficult it can be to deal with the aftermath of a work injury, not just physically but financially as victims are often unable to work or must work in a diminished capacity, resulting in lost income.
You can reach us by phone (800) 762-8623 or by online contact form. We are ready to discuss how we may be able to assist you.
Jay Trucks & Associates. Free Consultation.