The Jones Act of 1920 was a very positive piece of legislation for all merchant marines in Louisiana. It provided them with insurance coverage for workplace injuries that occur on the high seas and fall under maritime law rules. Maritime law itself differs considerably from common law that applies on land, and the Jones Act makes compensation available for those who sustain injuries while working as seamen in the Merchant Marine employment field. One of the primary benefits of the Jones Act is the potential for someone to receive long-term general damages based on dealing with an ongoing injury, which is a benefit that standard land-based and state-enforced workers’ compensation insurance does not allow in most cases.
The importance of Jones Act classification
Many employers will oppose a workplace injury being declared a Jones Act injury, preferring, instead, to classify an injured worker as a Longshore Harbor Worker, which denies general damage recovery in most cases. Injured workers are entitled to coverage for medical bills that their injuries caused, lost income while recovering and general damages for the long-term implications of the injury. Maritime employment is dangerous work, and many injuries are life-altering events.
Who does the Jones Act cover?
The Jones Act covers individuals who work at operations that require them to be “navigating the waters” at least 30% of the time while carrying out work responsibilities. People working in the harbor could be denied Jones Act protection in certain situations if they spend most of their time inside the harbor limits. Those who may be eligible include:
- Master seamen
- Crew members
How a maritime lawyer can help
Workplace injuries falling under the Jones Act can be vigorously defended by employers, and it always takes aggressive representation from an experienced Louisiana Jones Act attorney who focuses their practices on Jones Act injury cases. Workers typically only have one opportunity for financial justice, and it is vital to maximize that lone chance by retaining professional legal representation.