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Workers' compensation: Not the same for maritime workers

Unlike traditional personal injury or workplace accident laws, maritime injury laws have their own rules and regulations. Workers in this field don't qualify for traditional workers' compensation if they're hurt. Instead, they have to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.

Under the general maritime laws, those who are hurt on the job can pursue several forms of compensation. These include the full cost of their current and future medical expenses, lost earnings and lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, found and prejudgment interest. Found is a term specific to this industry; it refers to the meals and lodging a seaman would have received if he had been able to remain employed as such.

If you're hurt and file a claim under the Jones Act, your entitlements are a little different. You will still be able to make several of the above claims, but you won't be able to seek prejudgment interest. Neither the Jones Act nor general maritime laws allow individuals to recover compensation for society or for a loss of consortium. It was only recently that the courts began to allow for recovery for emotional distress without a physical injury, which covers post-traumatic stress disorder and other distress.

Maritime laws do significantly vary from those for the traditional workforce. If you've been hurt on the job or have lost a loved one in a maritime accident, it's a smart move to talk to a professional who is well-versed in maritime law. The way you pursue your claim could have an impact on the amount of compensation you can recover.

Source: FindLaw, "Maritime Damages," accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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