Do Shipping Workers Qualify for Workers’ Comp?
Yes, in most cases, shipping employees qualify for workers’ compensation. However, they do not receive workers’ compensation in the same manner that other workers do. Different acts and regulations outline how a shipping employee recovers workers’ compensation.If you have been injured while working onboard a vessel or in or near the navigable waters of the United States, then contacting a shipping employees workers’ compensation lawyer could be in your best interest. Call (818) 507-8525 to speak to a member of our team at KLT Law Group today in a free consultation.
What Is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
Maritime workers have a special workers’ compensation act that protects them if they suffer an injury at work. The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) ensures that maritime workers receive proper benefits if they are injured while performing their job duties.
What Benefits Can You Recover Because of the LHWCA?
The LHWCA allows workers to recover the same benefits that a worker doing a non-maritime job can. These benefits include:
- Compensation for lost wages
- Medical care
- Vocational rehabilitation services
- Survivor benefits if your loved one passed away while working on a ship
Depending on the nature of your injury, the compensation you could recover from these damages could be significant.
Who Does the LHWCA Cover?
The LHWCA covers employees with jobs such as:
- Longshore workers
- Ship repairers
- Harbor workers
To qualify for benefits, you must perform your work on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining:
If you work in an area used to load and unload vessels, you are also likely eligible to recover compensation for any injuries you sustain.
If you are a non-maritime worker injured while performing work on a vessel or in an area covered by the LHWCA, you may be eligible to recover benefits through this act.
Who Does the LHWCA Not Cover?
You cannot recover benefits under the LHWCA if you are a:
- Government employee, whether from the United States or a foreign country
You also will not be covered if you cause your own injuries intentionally or because of intoxication.
What if the LHWCA Does Not Cover You?
If you are a seaman injured while performing the duties of your profession, then you can still recover benefits for your injuries. However, rather than using the LHWCA, you will recover benefits under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, allows injured seamen to bring a lawsuit against their employer.
What Is a Seaman?
A seaman is generally a crewmember or captain of a vessel who spends significant time aboard the vessel while it is in navigation.
The U.S. Courts have ruled that a worker must spend at least 30 percent of their time on a vessel to meet the definition of a seaman. This means an independent contractor or freelancer likely cannot be a “seaman.”
Finally, a seaman must help the vessel accomplish its mission through the work they provide. This means that administrative staff on a vessel will likely not qualify to make a claim under the Jones Act, since they do not help the vessel get where it needs to go or accomplish its goals.
What Does the Jones Act Allow a Seaman to Do?
The Jones Act gives basic rights to seamen who want to sue a negligent party and seek damages. Because regular workers’ compensation benefits do not pertain to seamen, the Jones Act ensures they do not fall victim to a negligent employer.
“Maintenance and Cure”
According to the Legal Information Institute, if a seaman is injured on a vessel, they have the right to “maintenance and cure.” This means they deserve to have their daily living expenses and medical care paid for until they can return to work.
Sue Their Employer
With regular workers’ compensation claims, workers generally do not have the right to sue their employers. This is because workers’ compensation covers most, if not all, of the damages they could recover during a lawsuit.
However, seamen can sue their employer if they suffer an injury due to their employer’s negligence. For example, if a shipping company does not properly maintain a vessel, it could result in severe injuries. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all maintenance is up to date before going out to sea with a crew.
How Can a Lawyer Help With Your Workers’ Comp Case?
Workers’ compensation law can be difficult to understand, but if you are a maritime worker, whether aboard a vessel or near navigable waters of the United States, it can be even trickier to determine which act covers you and what damages you can recover.
A lawyer can help you seek the damages you deserve and determine fault and negligence. They can help you understand the options available to you and determine whether your employer followed applicable laws following your injury.
By having a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side, you can rest and recover from your injuries while someone else fights on your behalf to recover the compensation that you rightfully deserve.
Get Help From a Shipping Employees Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you are a maritime worker who experienced a serious injury or illness because of your job, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you. While you are not eligible for standard workers’ compensation, specific acts allow maritime workers to receive the care and compensation they deserve. To learn more about how a shipping employees workers’ compensation lawyer from KJT Law Group can help you, contact us online or call (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation.