Will I be Fired for Filing a Maritime Injury Claim?
Apart from defining the term seaman, Jones Act also has provisions for a safe workplace environment, as well as the payment of compensations in the case of a workplace accident or an injury.
Working on a boat or a ship can be challenging. Even if the right precautions are undertaken, a person may still get injured in their line of duty. Seeking compensation for injuries is something that’s envisioned by the law, but many people worry that they’ll be sanctioned by an employer.
If you’re a seaman and you consider filing a maritime injury claim, you should keep the following essentials in mind.
Injuries under the Jones Act
The Jones Act gives injured employees an opportunity to sue their employer for negligence. There should be sufficient evidence that the owner of the vessel, the captain or the crew have been negligent in the execution of their duties.
A link between the negligence and the injury sustained should also be established.
Under the act, employers are obliged to provide seamen with safe working conditions. The maintenance of the vessel should also be kept in good condition is also a part of the employer’s obligation under the statute.
This bill is incredibly user-friendly as far as protection against injury and negligence go. Any of the following can be the reason for the submission of a legitimate claim:
- Improperly functioning equipment
- Lack of proper equipment for the execution of one’s professional responsibilities
- The use of unsafe work methods
- Poor or improper training
- Grease on deck
- Assault by coworkers
- Negligence by coworkers/captain
Under this act, an employer may even be held accountable for a poor hiring decision (for example, choosing aggressive or incompetent crew members).
Some of the instances in which financial compensation will be considered include equipment accidents, commercial fishing accidents, falls overboard, the loss of limbs due to poor working conditions, chemical exposure, fire, electrical accidents, repetitive use injuries, slips and various others.
Usually, when an accident happens, a worker will have to prove that negligence has been the proximate cause of an injury. This means that the plaintiff should prove that negligence has proved a substantial part in the accident that led to injuries.
In order to establish the culpability of an employer, a seaman will be burdened to prove that negligence played any part in the accident (even a minor one). Even if there have been more serious contributing circumstances, it would still be possible to sue an employer.
When a successful claim occurs, a worker may be entitled to coverage for medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and the loss of fringe benefits.
Getting Fired for an Injury Claim?
A seaman can potentially be fired for filing a claim, but this doesn’t mean there won’t be any consequences for their employer.
Because the purpose of Jones Act is to protect maritime workers, it also has a wrongful discharge clause. If a worker believes that they’ve been fired as a result of filing an injury claim, they could bring a retaliatory discharge claim against the employer.
If a wrongful discharge can be proven, a seaman will be entitled to compensatory damages on top of the compensation for sustaining an injury.
A threat of getting fired should never discourage you from exercising your rights. The Jones Act establishes an opportunity for injured seamen to seek compensation. When threats occur, or when a retaliatory discharge occurs, a consultation with an experienced attorney will be required to bring further legal action against the employer.
In such instances, the employer could be ordered to pay compensation for lost wages stemming from the termination.