Injured workers who are covered under Alaska’s workers’ compensation program don’t have to prove that their employer did anything wrong before they can collect benefits. They must merely show that the injury occurred during the course of their employment.
The system has its problems and tradeoffs, but it is designed to be efficient.
Things are more complicated for injured workers who are covered under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is a century-old law that covers most maritime workers. The law itself covers many aspects of maritime work, including many employment law issues. It can also provide benefits for workers who are injured on the job.
To be eligible for benefits, injured workers must prove that their injury happened because their employer was negligent in some way.
One way to establish negligence is to show that the employer failed to provide a seaworthy vessel.
Under the Jones Act, employers have a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Seaworthiness means not just having a boat that can float but also one where the workplace is reasonably safe and the crew is reasonably well trained and has appropriate gear, safety equipment and procedures.
If the employer fails in these duties, and that failure leads to a seaman being injured, the injured worker can recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages and more.
Note that a court may reduce an injured worker’s compensation in these cases if it finds that the worker’s own carelessness contributed to the accident that injured them.
Maritime law has many quirks that are unlike the laws faced by most terrestrial workers. Attorneys with experience in maritime law and knowledge of the Jones Act help injured workers to get the benefits they need after they have been injured on the job.