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Maritime workers can’t file for workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2022 | Maritime Law

Every job comes with inherent risk, and employees shouldn’t need to gamble on their safety and future earning potential just to bring home a paycheck. Most workers in Florida have an easy time getting support when they get hurt at work. State law requires that all employees in Florida carry workers’ compensation insurance. 

When someone either gets hurt at work or is diagnosed with a work-acquired medical condition, they can report it to their employer and start claiming benefits. The family of someone who dies on the job will have similar rights. However, those working in dangerous maritime professions like offshore oil and gas extraction and professional fishing don’t have those same protections. 

Workers’ protections end at the shore

Workers’ compensation benefits vary depending on the jurisdiction where they get hurt. Every state has different rules. All of those state rules end when you reach the ocean or the navigable waterways of the continental United States. For employees hurt while on the open ocean, a workers’ compensation claim likely isn’t an option. 

Instead, their only form of recourse may be to look into a civil lawsuit under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It gives injured workers and surviving family members of deceased maritime workers the right to file a claim against maritime employers in civil court. 

You can hold your employer accountable for improper safety practices by asking for compensation for lost wages and medical expenses when you bring a Jones Act claim against the company. Unlike workers’ compensation, which is a no-fault system, claims brought under the Jones Act require proof of wrongdoing or significant negligence on the part of the employer. 

Learning more about the rules that protect injured maritime workers, like the Jones Act, can help you bounce back after an injury on the job.