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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

Claim BenefitsJones ActWorkers’ Comp
Fault-Based CompensationX 
Medical Bills CoveredXX
Disability Benefits ProvidedXX
Lost WagesX 
Pain & SufferingX 
Future Medical CostsX 
Applies to Injuries on Land X
Applies to Injuries on the WaterX 
Can Sue Employer for NegligenceX 
Applies to SeamenX 
Need an Attorney to FileX 

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.

Can I file a lawsuit under the Jones Act and a workers’ compensation claim?

No, you cannot file both a workers’ compensation claim and a Jones Act lawsuit for your work-related injury. The type of suit you file will depend on the circumstances surrounding your incident. A New Orleans Jones Act attorney may be able to help.

Both types of suits can provide compensation for expenses related to your work injury; however, there may be limitations that should be considered in each case. For instance, you are limited in the amount of compensation you can receive through a workers’ compensation claim. You can increase the amount of your settlement through a Jones Act lawsuit.

However, you will only be successful with a lawsuit if you can prove that your employer was negligent and as a result, it led to your injuries. If you don’t have adequate evidence to support this, you may forfeit your rights to any compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Claim and Fault

While you are limited in what you can receive through a workers’ compensation claim, it doesn’t matter who was at fault. Even if you were totally at fault for the incident that caused your injuries, you can still be compensated for your medical expenses and lost wages.

Jones Act Claim and Fault

Meanwhile, if you were to file a Jones Act claim, you could potentially receive far more compensation, however that compensation will be reduced by how much you were at fault for your accident.

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 504-680-4100 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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