Maritime law, often called admiralty law, governs things that occur on the water, including shipping, cargo damage, arrests and the welfare of maritime employees. Maritime laws, especially the Jones Act, are designed to protect the rights of sailors and govern how you may be compensated after an injury.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is protectionist legislation focusing not only on the transport of goods, services and people, but also on the rights of sailors. Some of these rights include the ability to seek damages if you are injured as well as where ships transporting goods must be built, owned and operated. However, the most common application of the Jones Act pertains to injuries to those who work on ships.
Pre-existing conditions are any medical condition you may have had before you took a job on a ship. Some common pre-existing conditions, like arthritis, may be aggravated by the work you are required to do and may lead to debilitating issues. Many employers and insurance companies try to avoid paying claims for injuries by stating that the injury “pre-existed” employment and therefore is not the fault of the employer. They may even use this tactic if you fall or suffer a blow that causes the injury.
Protections under the Jones Act
The good news is that you may be protected by the Jones Act, even if you have a previously diagnosed medical condition. If you disclosed to your employer that you had a pre-existing condition before you started working for them, the employer may not use that as a reason to deny your claim for compensation. If you were unaware that you had the condition, something not uncommon with chronic conditions like arthritis, the Jones Act may protect you as well.
An attorney can help you navigate through the Jones Act, helping you prove that your injury was either not related to a pre-existing condition or that your job duties caused your pre-existing condition to worsen.