If you are a maritime employee who is assigned to a vessel, you are likely eligible to receive compensation under the Jones Act after an injury on the job. Like state workers’ compensation, the Jones Act is a federal law that provides wage and medical benefits (called maintenance and cure) after a work-related injury, and makes it illegal to retaliate against a worker who files a benefit claim. However, the Jones Act also gives injured seamen the right to sue their employers and shipowners for negligence.
Jones Act Protections Against Retaliation of an Injured Seaman
If you file for compensation under the Jones Act, it is illegal for a shipowner or employer to fire you for exercising your right to benefits. It is also illegal to threaten a seaman’s job to prevent him from filing a Jones Act claim. This is called “retaliatory discharge,” and it can carry serious consequences for the shipowner as well as benefits for the injured worker. Unfortunately, many employees do not know this, and attempt to cope with an injury with no way to pay for their medical bills.
In addition to payment for past and future medical expenses, physical pain, emotional distress, disability, and lost earning capacity, a case that involves retaliatory discharge may result in:
If you are terminated or laid off as a result of seeking injury or wage payments, you can collect additional damages for the hardship you suffered as a result of the discrimination in your injury case.
Wage loss payments with interest.
If you lost your job because you were injured, you have the right to be compensated for the wages you would have earned if you had not been unfairly terminated, plus interest.
Any unfairly terminated employee must be reinstated to his or her former position with the same pay and privileges of original employment.
An employer who is found guilty of retaliatory discharge may be ordered to pay for the injured worker’s attorney fees, expert witness fees, and litigation costs.
If your employer fired you after you filed for benefits, it may lend extra weight to your injury claim. Call (800) 362-9329 today to speak with a maritime lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights today.