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Maritime Claims versus Jones Act Claims: Facts to Understand


When you are working on the open waters it can be dangerous.

When you are injured on the job and you work in the maritime industry, you may qualify for a Jones Act claim or maritime claim.

Deciding which type of claim you can file comes down to the specifics of your case. Therefore, you should consult with a maritime injury attorney to explore your options. The laws for both claims are complicated, and often it requires the assistance of an experienced maritime law attorney to navigate your way through.

An Overview of the Claim Types in New Orleans

You have two primary claim types if you work in the maritime industry: maritime law claims and Jones Act claims.

What are the Maritime Law Claims

Under maritime laws, seamen and maritime employees have protections when they become injured at work. It does not matter if you work at sea, in the shipyard, or on an oil rig, you have rights.

Maritime claims address issues that might be unrelated to an injury too. Often, when a case qualifies for a maritime claim, an attorney will review the case facts to see if their client qualifies for a Jones Act claim.

Cases that fall under maritime law range from fisherman injuries to passenger ship accidents. It might involve on-the-job accidents or off-the-job incidents.

Maritime law, also known as Admiralty law, is an area that governs vessels and any accidents at sea. Everyone is entitled to fundamental rights under these maritime laws:

  • Ship Owner Duties: Any ship owner with passengers must provide reasonable care to those individuals. If they were negligent and an injury occurs, passengers have the right to file a lawsuit and collect damages.
  • Maritime Liens: These laws allow seamen and creditors to file a lien against a company or vessel as security to collect the funds due.
  • Ship Owner Duties to Crew: Owners of vessels are required to maintain the ship and care for any injured crewmen. This includes providing free medical care, including long-term or permanent medical care when necessary.

Most maritime law cases fall under federal court jurisdiction. However, most cases now can go to the state level under Title 28 of the U.S. Code. The only time a case will go to federal court is when it involves maritime property.

What Is a Jones Act Claim?

Jones Act claims cover seamen but has a narrower group of those protected under the Act. First, it does not cover all accidents like maritime law claims. Instead, it focuses solely on those qualified as seamen who work on an operative vessel or fleet of ships. The semen must also show that the vessels owner, crew member, or employer was negligent to qualify.

Are You Qualified as a “Seamen”?

Seamen refer to anyone assigned to a ship that can navigate open waters – and the job duties of that person contribute specifically to the ship. You must spend a minimum of 30 percent of your working hours on the vessel.

People who typically qualify as a “seaman” include:

  • Deckhands
  • Cooks
  • Housekeeping
  • Stewards
  • Crew members
  • Engineers

How Does the Jones Act Protect Injured Workers?

The Jones Act ensures that any time a seaman is injured or becomes ill, the owner of that vessel must reimburse their losses. The reimbursement is referred to as a “maintenance and cure” requirement. Therefore, the law requires that the vessel’s owner pay for the damages until the seaman fully recovers.

Some costs that may be recovered under a maritime claim include:

  • Hospitalization
  • In-home nursing care
  • Long-term rehabilitation
  • Physician appointments
  • Vocational training
  • Emotional health
  • Financial counseling
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity

If you work on an offshore oil rig, you might also be eligible under Jones Act protections.

Know Your Rights

After an accident, you should ensure that your needs are met, including your emotional, medical, and financial needs.

  • You have the right to pick your physician. Under maritime laws, you have the right to select your doctor and you do not have to use the one the insurance company or the vessel owner suggests. While you might need to see a recommended doctor for a claim’s evaluation, they do not need to be your treating physician.
  • You are entitled to receive medical treatment. You have the right to receive medical procedures and be reimbursed for those costs. Furthermore, you have protections against doctors who work for the insurance company that claims your treatment course is unnecessary.
  • You have the right to compensation with pre-existing conditions, too.
  • Recording a statement is not required. The insurance company or vessel owner might approach you and ask that you give a recorded statement, but there is no legal requirement for you to do so. Instead, consult with a maritime injury attorney before discussing any details of the accident.

Hire a Maritime Injury Attorney First

You might not be ready to file a lawsuit, but you should still consult with a maritime injury attorney. An attorney will discuss your options, and they will review any documents that the insurance company tries to get you to sign. Furthermore, they will ensure you do not accidentally waive your right to certain compensation types.

Most importantly, you need an advocate. After all, your employer has their insurance company and the insurer is likely to have a team of attorneys. The goal of any insurance company, like any business, is to reduce payouts and losses. Therefore, they work hard to reduce how much money they pay to seamen injured on the job.

Protect yourself and your rights by scheduling a free case evaluation today with Shlosman Law Firm.

Call 504-826-9427 to get started.