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What Is a Jones Act Lawyer?

December 8, 2021

While the workers’ compensation laws in Kentucky and Indiana protect employees who work on land, they do not protect employees who work on navigable waters. This includes the Ohio River. Fortunately, while workers’ compensation laws don’t protect these “seamen,” other laws do. One of these laws is the Jones Act.

At the Karl Truman Law Office, our experienced Jones Act lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of injured maritime workers. As a second-generation merchant marine, our firm’s founder and principal attorney Karl Truman knows firsthand the hardships maritime workers face every day. He is committed to helping his clients recover the maximum compensation they need to move forward.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that provides important legal rights to maritime workers who don’t qualify for state workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, it applies to maritime workers who qualify as “seamen.” 

To qualify as a “seaman,” a maritime worker must spend a significant amount of his or her working time contributing to the mission of a vessel in navigation. A “significant amount of time” is generally understood to mean at least 30% of a worker’s time on the clock. A “vessel in navigation” is any vessel that is:

  • In operation,
  • Afloat,
  • Capable of moving, and
  • On navigable waters.

As a result, the Jones Act protects crew members, captains, officers, engineers, deckhands, stewards, fishermen, and other types of workers who spend their days onboard boats and ships on the Ohio River. It also protects workers such as divers whose work contributes to a vessel’s mission even though their primary job duties might not necessarily involve being onboard. 

What are Jones Act Benefits? 

Jones Act benefits fall into two categories: (i) maintenance and cure benefits, and (ii) compensation for Jones Act negligence. These categories of benefits are very different. 

Maintenance and cure benefits are available to injured seamen on a “no fault” basis. This means that injured seamen can obtain maintenance and cure benefits regardless of how they got injured on the job. These benefits cover necessary medical expenses for treating seamen’s job-related injuries, and they provide partial compensation for injured seamen’s lost wages. 

Compensation for Jones Act negligence can fully cover the costs of a seaman’s job-related injuries. This includes not only medical expenses and lost wages, but also pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress, and other losses. However, unlike maintenance and cure benefits, obtaining this compensation requires proof that a seaman’s employer is responsible for the accident that caused the seaman’s injuries. 

What is a Jones Act Lawyer? 

A Jones Act lawyer is a lawyer who helps seamen who have suffered job-related injuries. This includes filing claims for maintenance and cure benefits and seeking additional compensation for Jones Act negligence. Both types of claims present challenges for injured seamen, and hiring an experienced Jones Act lawyer is the best way for these maritime workers to protect their legal rights. 

The services a Jones Act lawyer can provide include:

  • Determining if you qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act. If you do not qualify as a seaman, you may have a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) or another workers’ compensation statute. 
  • Helping you file for maintenance and cure benefits. Even though maintenance and cure benefits are available to injured seamen on a “no fault” basis, collecting these benefits can still prove difficult. 
  • Making sure you receive full maintenance and cure benefits. Employers and their insurance companies will often try to terminate injured seamen’s maintenance and cure benefits prematurely. One way they do this is by claiming that seamen have received their “maximum medical improvement” (or “MMI”) even though they are still recovering. 
  • Determining if you have a claim for Jones Act negligence. If you have a claim for Jones Act negligence, your lawyer can seek compensation above and beyond maintenance and cure. 
  • Helping you avoid costly mistakes. From returning to work too soon to simply accepting your doctor’s determination of MMI, there are several costly mistakes a Jones Act lawyer can help you avoid. 
  • Negotiating for a fair settlement. If you have a claim for Jones Act negligence, negotiating for a fair settlement guarantees you will receive just compensation (as long as your employer or its insurance company pays), and it allows you to start moving on with your life. 
  • Taking your Jones Act case to court if necessary. While most Jones Act claims don’t go to court, if you need to take your case to court you will need an experienced Jones Act lawyer on your side.

Speak with a Jones Act Lawyer in Kentucky or Indiana for Free

Do you have a claim under the Jones Act? Contact us to find out. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible, call our office in Louisville, Kentucky, at (502) 222-2222 or in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at (812) 282-8500.