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Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation Differences


There are several important Jones act and Workers Compensation differences that injured workers should keep in mind when deciding to file an injury claim. Both the Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation provide some form of compensation when an employee has been injured while on the job. Although there are many differences between them, one of the most important is that “seamen” cannot file a workers’ compensation claim. Because the Jones Act provides benefits to injured maritime workers, similar to what workers’ compensation does for many employees on land, many people often confuse the two. When examined, the Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation are significantly different.

Difference between the Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Jones Act Vs. Workers’ Compensation
Claim Benefits Jones Act Workers’ Comp
Fault-Based Compensation X
Medical Bills Covered X X
Disability Benefits Provided X X
Lost Wages X
Pain & Suffering X
Future Medical Costs X
Applies to Injuries on Land X
Applies to Injuries on the Water X
Can Sue Employer for Negligence X
Applies to Seamen X
Need an Attorney to File X

Jones Act Compensation is Determined by Fault, Workers’ Comp is Not

In a workers’ comp case it doesn’t matter if the employer, injured employee or a co-worker was responsible for the accident that caused the injuries. Fault plays no role in one’s ability to file workers’ compensation claim. Whereas compensation in a Jones Act claim is determined by who is at fault and by how much.

Therefore, in a Jones Act claim, the injured worker must provide evidence to support a claim of negligence, which could apply to not only an employer but:

• crewmembers;
• officers;
• operators;
• captains; or
• anyone else employed on the vessel who may have caused or contributed to the accident.

Jones Act Offers More Compensation Options, Workers’ Comp More Limited

The type of compensation available through both is also different. Under workers’ compensation, an employee’s medical bills are paid and disability benefits are provided as long as he/she has been out of work for at least a few days. Under the Jones Act, medical bills are also taken care of by the employer. But unlike workers’ comp, all wages that have been lost are recoverable.

No other remedies for compensation from an employer are available under workers’ comp. Even if an employer was negligent, a lawsuit cannot be filed. But a Jones Act claim allows workers to pursue additional benefits in addition to the maintenance and cure benefits available under maritime law. For instance, damages that address pain and suffering and future medical costs/lost income may be recoverable in a Jones Act claim.

Maintenance and cure payments are available to workers only until they have reached a point at which additional treatment won’t improve their condition or until they are able to return to their job.

Clearly, there is more compensation available through the Jones Act when compared to workers’ compensation. But not all employees are fully aware of their rights when it comes to injuries at work, which is why talking with an attorney might be a good idea.

The differences include:

  • Both provide funds for medical treatment, but workers’ compensation can only provide benefits for limited period of time, sometimes only a few years. Conversely, with the Jones Act you can receive medical payments for the rest of your life.
  • Both Jones Act coverage and workers’ comp offer payment for lost income and daily living expenses. Workers’ compensation usually pays workers around two-thirds of their wages; the Jones Act, on the other hand, may offer workers only about $15 to $40 per day.
  • Employers can be sued under the Jones Act, but not Workers’ Compensation. When receiving workers’ comp, injured employees cannot seek extra compensation for damages. Under Jones Act coverage, however, they can. Some injured seaman may even be able to seek punitive damages under some circumstances.

Contact a Maritime Personal Injury Attorney

Did you suffer injuries while working in a maritime environment, whether because of lack of crew training, an unseaworthy vessel or other negligent actions? Consider filing a Jones Act claim to recoup medical costs and other damages you may have suffered. Call 866-701-8647 to speak to a maritime attorney at The Young Firm in Louisiana about your case or to learn more about Jones Act coverage.

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