Understanding the Fine Print of Jones Act Settlements
Jones Act settlements have release documents that are typically 6 to 12 pages long. Very often it includes several conditions.
Confidentiality Clauses in Jones Act Settlements
First, many Jones Act settlements are confidential. If your settlement is confidential, there will be a paragraph in the release document specifically saying that the terms of the settlement are to remain strictly confidential. Many Jones Act employers do not want the amount that they settle claims for or the fact that they settle claims to be public knowledge. These companies also do not want attorneys publicizing the amount of money that they have been able to obtain for their clients in Jones Act settlements. For this reason, many companies these days insist that the terms of any settlement be confidential.
“Hold Harmless” in Jones Act Settlements
Most release documents also include language known as “hold harmless” language. This paragraph of the release essentially requires that you “hold harmless” or indemnify the company for several types of expenses which may exist in your case. The most typical expense is for past and future medical expenses. By agreeing to hold harmless the company in regard to any past or future medical expenses you are essentially agreeing that you are personally responsible to pay any medical bills which may be due at the time of your settlement or which you may incur in the future. The company wants to make it clear during most Jones Act settlements that they are no longer responsible for any medical expenses and that your settlement amount includes your payment of any such medical expenses which may be due at that time or which you may incur in the future. Most companies will also include “hold harmless” or indemnity language in regard to any attorney fees you may owe to your attorney or expenses you may owe to your attorney. This is a simple way for the company to make sure that it is clear that the company is not paying any attorney fees for you and that you alone remain responsible for payment of your attorney fees.
Employment and Jones Act Settlements
Finally, almost all Jones Act settlements include language specifically stating that you are not entitled to any current or future employment with your company. Almost all companies want to simply part ways with an injured employee at the time of the Jones Act settlement. Companies do not want any obligation to keep the employee hired after a Jones Act settlement. Most often the injured employee claims difficulty in returning to work so this paragraph of the settlement document typically is not a big issue. Companies also want to make sure that it is clear to you that there is no guarantee of future employment and that your Jones Act settlement does not include any agreement that you will remain an employee following the settlement.