San Diego California Workers' Compensation Lawyers Want You To Win With The Truth
Find answers to your questions about the Jones Act, DBA, California workers’ compensation, or employment law. If you have more questions, contact us.
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What constitutes discrimination in a maritime injury claim?
Federal maritime laws provide many protections for workers who spend the majority of their time on the water. While the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) and Jones Act are primarily known for providing payment for maritime injuries, these laws also protect the employment of any worker who legally asserts a claim.
Discriminatory Actions in Longshore Act Injury Claims
Maritime employees cannot be fired, removed from duty, or otherwise discriminated against for exercising their rights under the law. Discrimination may take many forms, including disparate treatment (treating the worker differently from other employees in similar circumstances) or disparate impact (adhering to employment practices that have a discriminatory or adverse effect for some workers and not others).
Under federal maritime statutes, is illegal to discriminate against a worker for:
Claiming injury compensation:
Workers cannot be demoted or fired because they claimed or are attempting to claim compensation for maintenance and cure under the Jones Act.
Testifying in court:
Employees are protected when testifying in a proceeding under the Jones Act.
Reporting safety violations:
Maritime employees are required to report violations of maritime safety laws to the appropriate federal agency. As a result, any worker who has notified the employer of an unsafe condition that has gone uncorrected is protected when notifying the Coast Guard (or federal government) of the violation.
Refusal to work due to safety concerns:
If a worker notifies an employer of unsafe workplace conditions and the conditions are not corrected, the worker may legally refuse to perform duties that may cause injury related to the hazard.
Becoming injured or disabled:
Employees who are injured or disabled in the course of employment cannot be discriminated against.
An injured worker who can successfully prove that the employer discriminated against him—even if the discrimination was only partially motivated by a protected action—could be owed compensation under the Longshore Act. Section 48 gives terminated employees the right to seek reinstatement of former employment, including payment of back wages. In addition, employers who violate discrimination laws may be ordered to pay fines up to $5,000, as well as the worker’s reasonable attorney fees.
Can I file a Jones Act injury claim if I was assaulted onboard?
A Jones Act seaman is guaranteed maintenance and cure payments for any injury sustained on the job, including assault. It doesn’t matter if you were attacked by another crew member, a passenger, or a trespasser on the vessel—you have a right to pursue a Jones Act case for injuries caused by assault, including:
- Fights between crew members
- An attack involving a gun, knife, or other weapons
- Receiving a blow or gunshot during a theft or burglary
- Injuries caused by intoxicated crew members or passengers
- Attacks by crew members who are mentally unstable or have criminal backgrounds
- Sexual assaults
Since the consequences of physical and sexual assault can be devastating, it is important that seamen know their rights when filing for compensation. These attacks can cause physical injuries that result in scarring and disfigurement, and emotional injuries that take a toll on the victim’s mental health. If the victim cannot return to work due to the stresses of injury, he or she may be able to collect permanent disability benefits from his or her employer.
What to Do if Your Assault Was Caused by Jones Act Negligence
It is also important to consider why the assault occurred, and if the employer or shipowner could be held liable for the attack. While an employer cannot be held responsible for every crew member’s actions, the employer should take precautions to prevent personal attacks from happening. This could mean performing adequate background checks on crew members, performing drug and alcohol testing, screening new hires for mental health issues, and investigating any history of prior violence or aggressive behavior. An employer can also be held liable for lax security that made it easier to carry out the attack, such as poor lighting in corridors or broken locks on entrances to sleeping quarters.
If your employer knowingly hired a crew member with a history of violence, you may be able to collect compensation through a Jones Act negligence claim. Please feel free to use our website to learn more about negligence claims, as well as collecting permanent disability for the effects of your injury.
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Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.
Am I allowed to collect Social Security disability and Jones Act benefits at the same time?
Under the conditions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), injured seamen are not prohibited from collecting multiple types of injury payments. However, your total benefit payments can be reduced if you collect many different types of coverage.
Injured Jones Act seamen should be wary of the following rules regarding collecting many types of injury and disability payments:
Receiving State Workers’ Compensation Benefits:
Eligible employees can collect both state workers' compensation payments and Jones Act payments, although any amount you receive from the state will be deducted from the amount your employer owes you. In these cases, injured sailors are allowed to collect the higher of the weekly compensation rates offered by the two systems. In addition, some states do not allow concurrent collection of workers’ compensation and LHWCA benefits, so the amount you receive can vary depending on where your case is heard.
Social Security Reductions:
Seamen who qualify for Social Security Administration (SSA) and Jones Act benefits can collect them at the same time for the same injury. However, the amount you receive from the SSA will likely be reduced as a result of collecting multiple payments, and you are required to notify the SSA if you receive multiple types of workers’ compensation.
The IRS requires injured workers to report all of the funds received through various workers' compensation programs on their yearly tax returns. Although you are required to declare these payments, the IRS exempts your injury or survivors' benefits from taxation if they were paid through a federal or state workers' compensation program.
A Jones Act Case May Be Your Best Option
If you are receiving multiple types of injury benefits in an attempt to make ends meet, you should investigate whether your injury could have been caused by unsafe working conditions. The Jones Act allows seamen to sue ship owners for negligence, including employee mistakes and poor vessel maintenance. To find out if you could be owed more than your maintenance and cure payments, please use our website to learn more about negligence claims.