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After Accidents

What is the Jones Act?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Longshore/Maritime Accidents

The Jones Act is federal legislation that governs the shipment of goods to and from American ports. It is intended as an all-inclusive legislative tool that sets the parameters for a wide variety of operations ranging from the number of ships allowed to transport cargo to making provisions for merchant marine sailors operating the ships. Many Texans work as merchant marines and fall under the scope of the Jones Act. It has often been hailed as one of the best workers’ compensation programs in the nation when sailors are injured on duty, and so much so that employers will often work diligently to deny injured employees coverage as classified Jones Act sailors.

Jones Act workers’ compensation

The Jones Act is the maritime law version of land-based workers’ compensation for injured employees, and it allows certain “maintenance and cure” that land-based workers’ comp programs do not provide. Standard workers’ compensation claimants in Texas are restricted from suing for long-term general damages stemming from a personal injury suffered on the job without evidence of negligence.

Jones Act benefit schedule

Jones Act employees differ in that their actual home is on the “high seas” within their vessel due to a constant work schedule. Along with replacement wages and general damages for ongoing issues with an injury, injured sailors are also provided maintenance for costs resulting from needing to stay ashore while their injury rehabilitates. For land-based workers’ compensation claims in Texas, injured workers only receive coverage of medical bills and replacement wages if their condition lasts more than seven consecutive days. The Jones Act allows for personal injury lawsuits while standard land-based workers’ comp does not.

Jones Act claims can often be complicated legal matters because the maritime sailor designation is typically fought by employers when a case goes to court. In addition, injury filings often become lawsuits when employers want to reduce the value of claims.