Filing a Jones Act Claim in Texas
Brian White | April 13, 2018 | Maritime Law
The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a unique avenue of recourse for injured sea workers. Since these workers are not eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits through Texas’ state-regulated system, sea workers can collect benefits to address their occupational injuries by filing a Jones Act claim. If you sustain an injury while working on a vessel, ship, offshore drilling rig, or any other maritime structure, the Jones Act entitles you to collect benefits, regardless of who was at fault for your injuries.
The Jones Act allows for two main types of payments: maintenance payments cover a worker’s basic living expenses while he or she is healing from his or her injuries, while cure payments cover the full extent of a worker’s reasonable medical expenses. These benefits continue until a worker can return to work, or until a doctor deems that a worker reaches a state of maximum medical improvement.
Additionally, the Jones Act allows workers to file personal injury claims on top of receiving maintenance and cure benefits, if the employer was at fault for the worker’s injuries. This makes the federal statute an essential avenue of recourse for injured seamen.
How to File a Jones Act Claim
If sustained an injury on the job, take the following steps to protect the health of your claim:
Report Your Injury as Soon as Possible
When you sustain any job-related injury, the most important thing you can do is immediately request to file an accident report with your employer. Tell your supervisor about the accident as soon as it happens and review his or her report to ensure that all information is accurate. It’s common for an employer to dispute the date, circumstances, or even the extent of an injury when an injured worker fails to file a report or reports it too late. Don’t leave anything to chance – report your injury as soon as possible.
When you report an injury to your employer, he or she might ask you to provide a recorded statement, but never agree to this unless you’ve spoken to a Jones Act attorney. If possible, get the names and contact information of co-workers or witnesses who can corroborate your story.
Talk to a Jones Act Attorney
The Jones Act is a federal statute that requires an attorney with specific experience. An attorney with legal experience regarding the Jones Act will serve as your advocate throughout the process, handle all the paperwork, and keep you informed throughout your claim. A Texas Jones Act attorney can also help determine if your employer committed negligence, and if so can begin the process of filing a personal injury claim against it. A personal injury claim can help provide further compensation for damages, such as intangible losses like pain and suffering.
Know Your Rights
As an injured maritime, you have a unique right to compensation under federal law. However, there are certain guidelines that dictate your right to file a claim. For example, Jones Act claims have a statute of limitations of three years. This means that you must file a claim within this period, or you could lose your right to compensation under the law.
If you sustained an injury as a sea worker, we recommend contacting a Jones Act attorney as soon as possible. This not only helps expedite receiving maintenance and cure payments, it also helps protect your right to other forms of compensation (such as those arising from a personal injury lawsuit).
If you’re a sea worker and you sustained an injury throughout the course of your employment, don’t delay – report your case and contact an injury attorney as soon as possible.