Jones Act arbitration is one way to settle a disputed injury claim involving an injured seaman. The Jones Act gives seamen certain rights, including filing a claim to recover damages after an accident caused by negligence. Claims are not always settled easily and may lead to litigation or arbitration.
Jones Act Claims and Compensation
The Jones Act provides injured seamen a way to seek compensation after a negligent accident on the job. A successful claim can compensate an injured worker for medical expenses, lost earnings, and more.
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The claims process can be confusing and is not always straightforward. If an employer does not want to provide adequate compensation, the seaman may choose to litigate or go through arbitration to find a resolution.
What Is Arbitration?
Not all Jones Act claims are easily settled. Some require litigation, while others require arbitration. Your employer may push for arbitration. Arbitration involves using a third party to determine the outcome of your claim. This is someone not connected to you or your employer, so they will be unbiased.
It is possible, although unlikely that you have an arbitration clause in your employment contract. If you do not, you cannot be forced into arbitration to settle a Jones Act claim. The outcome of the arbitration is final and cannot be appealed.
Employers Favor Arbitration
Arbitration is not always bad for you as the plaintiff. It may work out in your favor. However, you should understand why your employer might push for arbitration to resolve your claim.
One reason is that arbitration tends to result in a smaller payout for the employer or insurance company. Another reason is that a trial can be expensive, and arbitration provides a more cost-effective solution.
While the desire to save money by avoiding a trial is understandable, you should never be pressured into arbitration for a Jones Act claim if you don’t feel it will go in your favor. Some employers stoop to low levels to force arbitration, such as threatening to stop your medical payments. This is an illegal practice, but it has happened.
Another less extreme tactic is to convince you to go with arbitration by stating that it will be quicker and get you compensation sooner. This may be true, but you may also end up with less compensation.
Why Jones Act Arbitration May Not Be in Your Favor
It’s true that arbitration may take less time than a trial you may lose out on the compensation you deserve if you go through this process. It can be tempting to choose arbitration, especially if your employer offers you a small payment right away.
The truth is that this limits your possible total compensation in the future. Another disadvantage of Jones Act arbitration is that it is final. You have very little recourse to get a decision reversed if you think it is unfair. On top of this, arbitration tends to favor the employer over the employee.
When Your Employer Pressures You on Arbitration
Your employer should not be pressuring you or coercing you in any way to agree to a Jones Act arbitration for your claim. It is unethical and, in some cases, depending on the method of coercion, illegal.
If you feel like you are being pressured to agree to something that makes you uncomfortable or that you don’t understand, talk to your lawyer before doing anything.
Once you sign an arbitration agreement, you have few options left. You will have to abide by the ruling of the arbitrator. Your experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you get through this process and understand what your employer is trying to get you to do. With the right representation, you can get a fair outcome that provides the compensation you deserve.