Fish processors on factory trawlers work long hours under difficult and often dangerous conditions. Injuries are common and can change your life forever. In the wake of an injury, it is important that a fish processor understand the important differences between the Jones Act and Alaska state workers’ compensations laws. If the processor was injured in the territorial waters off Alaska (within three miles) on a factory trawler or processing barge, you have the right to bring a state workers’ compensation claim and may also seek additional compensation under the Jones Act. If you are injured outside of state territorial waters (more than three miles from shore) on a factory trawler, you are likely covered under the Jones Act and general maritime law.
Benefits for Injured Fish Processors Under Alaska State Workers’ Compensation.
Under state workers’ compensation schemes, an injured fish processor only has to show that the injury occurred at work to recover workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include time loss (usually a percentage of your regular wage), medical benefits, retraining costs in some circumstances, and a partial permanent disability award if you sustain a permanent injury. The fish processor does not need to show that the employer was negligent in causing the injury. However, the benefits under workers’ compensation are limited and, in most instances, the Jones Act provides increased compensation for an injured fish processor.
If you are injured within Alaska territorial waters, many fish processing employers will try to send the injured fish processor into the Alaska workers’ compensation system where the benefits are usually less than what may be recovered under the Jones Act. Although you can pursue benefits through the workers’ compensation scheme, you should also consult with an experienced maritime personal injury lawyer to determine whether a Jones Act claim would provide additional benefits not available under the Alaska workers’ compensation scheme.
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