The Jones Act is a very important federal law that covers multiple facets of the maritime shipping industry. Not only does it designate which ships can sail in U.S. territorial waters that border Louisiana, but it also extends to allowing for injured seamen to claim workers’ compensation benefits when injured on the job. Being employed on the high seas is much different from working on the land due to remote job locations on shipping vessels where workers must live in isolation while on duty. When injuries occur as happens at all work locations on land, the “law of the land” does not apply. The Jones Act fills in that void.
Compensation after Jones Act injuries
Not all maritime workers are covered by the Jones Act. Those who are injured must prove their injury is work-related and that they happened while in employ on the high seas, which generally means they spend a certain percentage of their employment time on the oceans. Questions can arise when injured workers are hauling within the port, and shipping employers work diligently at denying Jones Act coverage when they can due to the no-fault work injury provisions.
Workers’ comp and the Jones Act
Standard land-based employment workers’ compensation in the state of Louisiana does not provide for any personal injury general damage claims due to the structure of the program. Workers must have established evidence of negligence by the employer to demand general damages for long-term suffering from an injury. The Jones Act does make this provision with no comparative negligence allowance.
What this means for workers who are seriously injured is that they can be compensated for ongoing problems with their injuries. This not only applies to earnings replacement as long as they are unable to work in any capacity, but it also includes “maintenance and cure” for resulting life problems going forward.