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Understanding workers’ comp for maritime workers

| Sep 1, 2020 | Maritime Law |

The maritime industry is unique from other areas of work because a typical workers’ compensation plan is not available for employees to seek compensation for their on-the-job injuries. Instead, the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) cover maritime workers. 

These two federal laws provide for employees injured or disabled at sea with compensation, payment of vocational rehabilitation services and medical care. 

Traditional maritime workers covered by the LHWCA

The LHWCA protects “traditional” maritime occupations. The Act covers ship repairers, shipbreakers or shipbuilders, harbor construction workers and longshore workers. Also included are non-maritime employees if the injury occurs on navigable water as they perform their work. Examples of these people include some roustabouts, platform workers and offshore oil riggers. 

If the injury occurs in adjoining areas used for vessel care, the LHWCA governs. These areas include docks, piers, terminals, wharves, places for repairing or building a vessel and areas for loading and unloading a vessel. 

Other workers covered by the Jones Act

The Jones Act is additional legislation that covers injuries for a wide range of seamen such as crew members, engineers, captains and mates. Mariners must spend a minimum of 30 percent of their time working on a group of vessels under common ownership or on a vessel in navigation for the Jones Act to cover their injuries. 

The Jones Act differs from the LHWCA and other workers’ compensation in that maritime employees filing claims must prove negligence by the employer. 

Overall, maritime workers have legal options should they become injured on the job.