Working on barges and tugboats on Kentucky’s rivers is not a normal 9-to-5 job. It is a unique kind of work that requires special protections. These jobs can be exciting, challenging and dangerous.

The job’s uniqueness and related hazards require legal safeguards beyond typical workers’ compensation. That comes through the Jones Act.

Thousands of people work on Kentucky’s rivers. If you qualify for the Jones Act, you are not able to file for workers’ compensation. You must recover through the Jones Act. You need to understand the act and how it protects you.

The Jones Act and its protections

The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is federal legislation. It protects workers injured at sea and on waterways. The act allows injured workers and workers who become sick while performing their job to collect compensation.

To qualify, you must work on a vessel that transports goods for commerce on the water. You must spend a significant amount of your workday on that vessel.

Workers can use the act to recover

If you were injured or a family member died while working on Kentucky’s rivers, you can file for:

  • Maintenance and cure. This is no-fault compensation. Injured vessel workers do not have to prove negligence. Your employer must provide needed medical care until treatment can no longer improve your injury.
  • Jones Act negligence. Workers can file a cause of action for negligence against their employers. This action requires proof of negligence.
  • Maritime claim stating the vessel was not seaworthy.

If you are a qualify, you might be able to use the act to collect some living or medical expenses.