Is Your Company Offering You “Workers’ Comp” After Your Offshore Injury? Be Careful!
Following an offshore injury, you may be offered workers’ comp benefits by your company in order to pay your bills while you recover.
While this might sound like a good deal at first, be careful.
You could be doing yourself a serious disservice if you accept without first determining whether or not you are in fact limited to just workers’ compensation benefits.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that many companies, particularly those that employ workers on land, purchase in order to provide medical treatment and wage compensation to their employees in the event of an on-the-job injury, regardless of who caused it.
This is a great deal for someone who injures themselves on accident, although the system can be difficult to navigate and is far from perfect.
But what if your employer was negligent and caused your injury?
Unfortunately, if you work on land for a company that has workers’ comp coverage, you will most likely be limited to workers’ comp benefits only.
That’s because in exchange for worker’s comp no-fault coverage, employees waive their right to sue their employer for negligence in causing their injury except in very limited circumstances.
For example, in Texas the only way to sue a workers’ comp-carrying employer for negligence is in the event of the death of an employee and only then if it was caused by gross negligence or an intentional act on the part of the employer.
Fortunately for many people who work offshore on vessels, workers’ comp does not apply.
Maritime Workers are Often Covered by the Jones Act Following an Offshore Injury
If you or your loved one were working offshore on a vessel, e.g. a boat, ship, tug, rig or anything else capable of floating on water, and suffered an on-the-job injury, the Jones Act will likely apply.
That means if you qualify as a Jones Act seaman, you can sue your employer for any negligence that contributed to your offshore injury.
You can also recover damages like pain and suffering and even compensation for lost earning capacity if you are unable to do the same job as before.
Am I Entitled to Medical and Wage Benefits Under the Jones Act?
Instead of workers’ comp wage benefits, you will be entitled to “maintenance” to cover room and board–typically somewhere between $30 and $40 per day.
While this amount is low compared to the 80% of wages guaranteed to workers’ comp beneficiaries, a good Maritime Lawyer can help make sure your bills are covered while your case is resolved.
You will also have your medical bills paid under “cure” until a doctor determines you have reached “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI”.
In the end, Jones Act claims tend to be much larger than workers’ comp claims in terms of compensation.
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