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Expansion of Jones Act maritime law application could happen soon

The Jones Act is the workers’ compensation legislation that covers injured workers out at sea while performing employment-related tasks. The law has long included those who travel the high seas working cargo ships as merchant marines along with those who have worked drilling rigs and transporting goods along the oceanic coast lines of Louisiana and other states. It was established in 1920 as a response to the workers’ compensation law that is used for workplace injuries occurring on land in the various states as well as railroad workers who were considered federal employees at the time.

Each state has the authority to set the parameters for workers’ compensation within their jurisdictions, but injuries that occur to workers on the high seas have no such provision. The Jones Act remedies that situation. The maritime injuries issue is so serious with the precedent case that the Fifth Circuit court of appeals has decided to hear the case en banc, meaning all judges will be seated for the ultimate decision. This is a rare appeals-level occurrence.

Maritime workplace injuries that are covered by the Jones Act differ from typical workers’ compensation cases. Workers’ compensation cases that stem from land-based work do not allow general damage claims for long-term implications of the injuries. There is no such restriction on maritime injury cases covered by the Jones Act; now, the number of employees who are covered will potentially expand to include more workers who are employed in high sea remote locations.

Maritime injuries attorneys understand that these jobs are highly dangerous by the mere location, but there are also other issues such as limited inspection from OSHA officials that can encourage companies to skirt the rules and regulations associated with their particular operation. What this means for injured workers is that general damage claims for pain and suffering might be significantly extensive and enhance their injury settlements when finalized.