If you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, you have the right to receive maintenance and cure benefits when you get injured on the job. You are entitled to these benefits regardless of how you got hurt (with a few rare exceptions), and your employer is supposed to pay promptly without putting up a fight. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. In fact, maritime employers routinely fight their employees’ claims for Jones Act benefits. One tactic many companies use is to try to force their employees to submit to Jones Act arbitration. What is Arbitration Under the Jones Act? Arbitration is a formal method of resolving legal disputes. Both parties (i.e., an injured seaman and his or her employer) present their arguments to an arbitrator, and then the arbitrator issues a decision. This decision is legally binding, and there are limited options for seamen to challenge a binding arbitration award in court. Why Is Arbitration Unfavorable for Injured Seamen? As an employee, you are not required to submit your maintenance and cure claim to arbitration (unless you have an employment contract that requires arbitration). But, this will not stop your employer from trying to force you into the process. There are a few reasons why maritime employers like arbitration when it comes to employees’ claims under the Jones Act: Arbitration is time-consuming. While arbitration is not as time-consuming as going to court, it is time-consuming nonetheless. Filing for arbitration delays an employer’s obligation to pay benefits, which puts […]

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