The most important thing to understand about disability benefits is this: they have no bearing upon any claim that you might make against your employer now or in the future. So never let fear of this deter you from getting the disability benefits that you’re entitled to. That being said, these cases can sometimes be quite delicate, so always make sure that you consult with a highly qualified maritime attorney before you put your name on any documents provided by either your insurance company or your employer.
The Jones Act, which covers U.S. marine workers who perform most of their duties aboard U.S.-flagged ships, provides benefits for marine workers that are in addition to any disability benefits they might be receiving. Further, there are other benefits that any maritime worker is eligible to seek. These include things such a state worker’s compensation, social security disability and others. Again, availing yourself of any of these benefits does not preclude you from continuing to receive disability benefits through your employer.
There is also the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which covers maritime workers on the United States’ navigable waterways, as well as in docks, harbors and shipyards that service those waterways. The LHWCA operates in much the same was as many states’ worker’s compensation laws. For one, the LHWCA does not require that an employer be found at fault for a maritime worker’s injuries. Through the LHWCA such workers can receive medical and disability payments, as well as payments that are meant to cover rehabilitation from injuries and vocational rehabilitation. Further, the LHWCA also provides a death benefit in the event that a maritime worker dies as the result of a work-related accident.
Regardless of which law applies in your case, it’s always advised that you avail yourself of disability benefits if your employer provides them to you. That’s because these benefits go into immediate effect and can help you get important medical and rehabilitation treatment that you might need for your injuries. Often, receiving compensation through other avenues can take a considerable amount of time, and you likely will not have time to wait for these payments to start coming in. Further, any claim that you might make against your employer will take time to process.
Even if you are receiving disability benefits through your employer, you can seek to make a claim against them if their negligence led to your injury. This negligence can take multiple forms. For example, the employer could have failed to provide adequate safety training to you and /or other employees. This employer could also have failed to keep up with the routine maintenance of vessels, docks, heavy machinery, or other structures involved in the process of going about your job-related duties. When this is the case, you will definitely want to get in touch with a qualified maritime lawyer, so that they can help you to receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.
As you can see, there are a lot of resources available to maritime workers when seeking compensation for injuries suffered while on the job. Since every case is different and because multiple laws and regulations may be at play, it’s highly advised that you retain the services of an experienced maritime lawyer to help you with your claims. They will be able to examine the specific circumstances of your case and help you pursue the maximum possible compensation available through the myriad different avenues open to maritime workers.