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HomeMaritime Law BlogJones ActJones Act and Workers’ Compensation Differences

Jones Act and Workers’ Compensation Differences


It’s critical for injured maritime workers to understand their rights after a workplace injury. This can drastically affect the benefits you are entitled to receive. Unlike shore-based occupations such as nurses and firefighters, longshoremen and mariners are not entitled to traditional Workers’ Compensation when they are injured on the job. Instead, maritime workers must file either a Jones Act claim or a Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) claim to receive any kind of compensation after a workplace injury.

It can be confusing learning the difference between the Jones Act and Workers Compensation, but we break it down so you get the answers you need. Check out more below, and if you need help with your Jones Act case, contact us

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 
Requires 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.

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.

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

The Jones Act offers seamen more types of compensation options within a claim, while Workers’ Comp is much more limited for injured land workers. For example – both Workers’ Comp and Jones Act will cover an employee’s medical bills when the employee is injured on the job and unable to return to work.However, only Jones Act claims can recover a victims lost wages while they have been unable to work. In some circumstances, injured seamen may also be able to seek punitive damages.

Both Workers Comp and the Jones Act will cover expenses for medical treatment. However, the Jones Act allows you to pursue compensation for pain and suffering as well as future medical costs and lost wages.

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.

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.

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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