Workers’ compensation benefits protect almost all employees from the risk of getting hurt or sickened by working. Part-time and full-time workers have equal access to benefits. Even someone who gets hurt on their very first day at a new job can claim workers’ compensation benefits for the medical treatment that they require and any necessary time off of work.
Unfortunately, there are limitations to the workers’ compensation system. Specifically, it operates on a state-by-state basis. Those working in the maritime industry on the Mississippi River could easily get hurt on the job. When they do, they may quickly realize that they don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
They won’t be able to make a claim because they got hurt on a navigable waterway and not in a specific state. What protects workers on the Mississippi River from losses related to their employment?
The Jones act applies to workers on the boats and harbors on the Mississippi River
The Jones Act is part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Specifically, it is the section of the law that gives injured workers the right to ask for compensation from their employers, Section 27.
Unlike workers’ compensation, which is a no-fault benefit program that largely relies on insurance claims, Jones Act compensation is only available after a civil lawsuit. Workers typically need to show that their employer’s misconduct or negligence contributed to their injuries to make a successful claim.
However, provided that you can show that mistakes like understaffing or poor maintenance contributed to your injuries, you can pursue compensation for lost wages, medical bills and even future lost earning potential.
Jones Act claims are more complex than insurance claims
Many workers attempt to file workers’ compensation claims on their own. Despite insurance companies encouraging such DIY approaches, workers may struggle to get the full amount of benefits that they deserve when handling a claim without support.
That risk is even more pronounced when making a claim in civil court against a company. Workers hoping to connect with compensation after they got hurt while working on the Mississippi River will likely need help while pursuing compensation from their employer. Learning more about your rights after a maritime work injury can help you better advocate for yourself when you get hurt.