Maritime workers who are injured on the job are not entitled to the usual workers’ compensation most employees are used to. However, maritime workers do have other protections in place when they get hurt at work. What protection you qualify for will depend on your job title, the nature of your job, and the type of injury you sustained. Because maritime workers are not covered by general workers’ compensation rights, two acts impact maritime employees. They are the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Jones Act. Each of these acts was designed to protect different maritime workers from work-related injuries. Maritime attorneys can help injured maritime workers determine whether they are eligible for the Jones Act or the LHWCA.
The Two Maritime Injury Acts
Though there are many types of maritime jobs, they are classified into one of two categories after suffering a work-related injury. Either they will be considered a “seaman” (also known as the “master or member of a crew of any vessel”) who qualifies for the Jones Act or they will qualify for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act provides a way for seamen to recover damages after a work-related injury. To be considered a seaman, one must contribute to the work of a navigable vessel (or a fleet of such vessels), and spend at least 30 percent of their working time onboard.
The Jones Act is a federal law that allows injured seamen to recover financial compensation. To do so, they must sue their employer and prove that employer’s negligence. A maritime lawyer can help you file a lawsuit and determine which damages you can sue for. Negligence on the part of an employer could include:
- Failing to provide a safe work environment or ensure a “seaworthy” vessel
- Failing to take appropriate caution
- Failing to hire qualified crew members or provide adequate training
- Failing to hire enough crew members for the required tasks
- Failing to follow all necessary safety procedures or post necessary safety signage
- Failing to provide proper working equipment or tools
Additionally, the Jones Act provides seamen with the right to be cared for and housed should they suffer an injury at sea. This includes any medical care that would be needed while at sea, as well as a place for the injured to safely recover from their injuries. These amenities must be provided for by their employer whether they were negligent or not.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The LHWCA works more akin to normal workers’ compensation claims. Injured workers covered by this act have the right to receive compensation for medical care, and rehabilitation services if an employee were to become disabled.
To qualify for the LHWCA, you must work on or adjacent to navigable waters but not fit the qualifications of a Jones Act seaman. This could include harbor workers, dockers, shipbuilders, or even shipping terminal employees. These are sometimes referred to as traditional
Additionally, the LHWCA would provide compensation to surviving family members if a worker were to die while performing the duties of their job.
How Can a Maritime Lawyer Help?
Whether you are covered under the Jones Act or the LHWCA, a maritime workers’ compensation lawyer can be of great benefit. As with all workers’ compensation claims, it is the responsibility of the injured to inform their employer of their injury promptly after it takes place. After this, your employer’s insurance company will investigate to determine whether your injuries actually took place while working.
If you believe that your employer is not acting in good faith or you just want to make sure that you are receiving all of the compensation you are entitled to, a maritime lawyer can help.
Recovering Damages Under the Jones Act
If you are classified as a seaman and covered under the Jones Act, you will need to prove that your employer was negligent in their care for you. An experienced maritime attorney can help you navigate that process and help prove that your employer was in fact negligent in their treatment of you. Once negligence has been proven, you can recover damages including:
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
The damages that you can recover are the same as with any other personal injury claim. If you are unsure if something should be covered, mention it to your attorney. They can provide counsel and let you know if it should be included in your lawsuit.
Filing Your LHWCA Claim
If you are looking to recover damages under the LHWCA, an attorney can help you file your claim. They can submit your claim to the insurance company on your behalf, and ensure that everything is filled out properly and filed on time within the statute of limitations. In addition, if it’s determined that your claim is invalid, your attorney can help you contest the decision.
Contact the Maritime Lawyers at KJT Law Group Today
Maritime law is notoriously complex. If you’re dealing with painful injuries, it can be hard to focus on details and easy to make costly mistakes. Rather than trying to decipher everything on your own and determine whether you qualify for compensation under the LHWCA or you need to sue your employer under the Jones Act, you can contact an attorney who can help you through every step of either process.
At KJT Law Group, our maritime attorneys can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We can help you file your claim or lawsuit, depending on which is more relevant to your maritime worker situation, then keep you updated on the progress of your case or claim while you recover from your injuries. When you are ready to move forward with your case for compensation, contact us for a free consultation.