Maritime Injuries, the Jones Act, and Disability Benefits

The following is a guest blog post by the Texas Maritime Lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P.  This worldwide Jones Act law firm has handled personal injury cases for over 45 years.

Maritime Injuries, the Jones Act, and Disability Benefits

If you are injured while working offshore, you may qualify for a variety of forms of compensation, including but not limited to Jones Act damages, maintenance and cure benefits, short term disability, workers compensation, long term disability, social security disability, and more.  How are you supposed to figure out which benefits to seek first and if you are entitled to them?  And, if you apply for benefits and get denied, what should be done next?

If your maritime employer has disability insurance, you will need to get a copy of the actual disability policy from your human resources department.  There will be separate policies for short term disability benefits (STD) and long term disability benefits (LTD).  The policies are long and complicated and a competent lawyer can help you review them to determine your eligibility for benefits.  The most common language for eligibility for STD benefits is extremely inclusive, meaning your chances of getting it are good.  This is not as often the case for LTD or social security benefits (SSD).

It is important to note that many ERISA (employment-related) disability policies have “offset” provisions.  This language allows the insurance carrier to reduce what they have to pay you when you are getting income from other sources like maintenance and cure, social security and workers compensation.  Do not expect to recover the full amount of your disability policy if you are receiving other money related to the same injury or disability from another source.

A big surprise to many Jones Act seamen comes when they receive full LTD benefits during the pendency of their lawsuit but then have to repay those benefits out of their ultimate settlement.  Be very careful in hiring a maritime lawyer for this reason.  Your lawyer must have an expert understanding of how all of these benefits interplay in your case.

Filing for any of the above-referenced disability benefits while you are out of work due to a Jones Act injury claim may provide significant financial resources to pay your monthly bills.  However, it is important to understand that multiple, complex legal issues may arise.  As with any other issue in regard to maritime accident claim, it is critical that you speak to an experienced attorney to discuss the facts and circumstances of your particular case as soon as possible to avoid engaging in behavior that is detrimental to your claim.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter McElwee Shaffer & Harris represent injured maritime workers in maritime and offshore accidents across the globe.  For answers to your Jones Act and maritime piracy questions, contact the offshore injury lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. at info@smslegal.com or visit them on Facebook.