If you sustain injury at work, it is important to understand which laws apply to you. If your injury has occurred on or near a body of navigable water, you may not know if you have protection under the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Both the Jones Act and the Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are federal, but they cover different categories of employees. According to the Department of Labor, “seamen” have coverage under the Jones Act, while “land based” employees have coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
How are the acts different?
In order for the Jones Act to come into play, the courts must consider the employee in question a seaman. This usually means an individual who holds employment on a permanent vessel. A “permanent vessel” can be many things, including a shipping boat, jack-up barge or an oil rig.
An important note is that it is not necessary for you to be actively contributing to navigation or transportation to be a “seaman.” However, you do have to be directly involved in the work of the ship and contributing to the ship’s mission. Essentially, the Jones Act covers workers who are specifically injured at sea, while the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act only covers those who are not stationed on permanent vessels.
What other differences are there?
The type of compensation these Acts offer is also different. For instance, the Jones Act will cover pain and suffering, whereas the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act does not. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act results in remedies that are more similar to workers’ compensation benefits.