Compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses for those who serve on sea or river-faring vessels differs from the typical workers’ compensation process. You should be aware of filing deadlines to ensure you recover compensation for your accident or illness.
The Jones Act applies to work-related accidents and occupational illnesses that occur on navigable waters.
A single injury vs. one which developed over time
If a single accident is the direct cause of your injury while working on a fishing boat or other maritime vessel, your compensation claim should be kicked off almost immediately. Your employer should have the necessary paperwork on hand or nearby so that you can get the ball rolling on your benefits as soon as possible.
Things become more complicated if there isn’t one underlying event that resulted in harm. For example, back and shoulder injuries or repetitive motion injuries often don’t become apparent right away. Exposure to harmful chemicals may result in the diagnosis of a disease years down the line. If your injury or illness didn’t involve a single event, you only have one year to make a claim under the Jones Act. The clock starts running as soon as you’re made aware of the injury or illness.
Some exceptions may apply
There are a few exceptions to the one-year filing deadline. You may be able to extend the deadline an additional year if you’re able to show specific facts impacted the filing of your claim. For example, incapacitation or awaiting a diagnosis may be enough to be eligible for an extension. It’s always best to strengthen your claim by providing medical documentation and other evidence for why you could not meet the one-year deadline.
It can be difficult to navigate this process on your own
Claims under the Jones Act can be complicated. Navigating waterways is one thing. Navigating the legal system is something else entirely. You should consider working with a legal professional who understands maritime law.