One of the difficulties seamen experience during their Jones Act Maritime injury claims is obtaining money to live on and to pay expenses with during the claim. Very often injured seamen will apply for unemployment benefits following a maritime injury. Often this can be a critical mistake and it can sometimes greatly damage their Jones Act claim.
One of the main reasons filing for unemployment can damage a Jones Act claim relates to the basic requirement that in order to collect unemployment benefits, most states require that the employee represent and state in writing that the employee can still perform the essential functions of their prior job. In other words, in order to collect unemployment benefits the employee must sign documents stating that he is still capable of working for the company. If the employee is also claiming to have sustained a serious injury which prevents him from working in the future, obviously his claim for unemployment benefits will be used against him to try to show that he either lied in order to collect unemployment benefits or he is misrepresenting the seriousness of his injury in his Jones Act claim.
Under maritime law a Jones Act employer is required to pay maintenance benefits to an injured employee. Instead of attempting to collect unemployment, a much better approach by an injured seaman is to file a suit to collect maintenance benefits arising out of his work-related injury. The seaman only needs to show that he sustained an injury at work and he has not reached “maximum cure” in order to collect maintenance benefits from his employer. By collecting maintenance benefits, the injured seaman may avoid having to file for unemployment benefits which could greatly damage his Jones Act injury claim.