Q: I’ve been injured in a maritime work accident. How do I know which laws apply to me?
There are federal laws intended to protect injured maritime workers, including the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides workers’ compensation benefits to maritime employees who aren't seamen. LHWCA benefits apply to workers on navigable waters, as well as those injured on terminals, piers, and docks. Shipbuilders, harbor workers, and longshoremen may therefore all be covered under the LHWCA. Workers aren't required to prove that anyone else is at fault for their injuries in order to qualify for benefits.
In addition to compensation for past and future medical expenses, an injured worker is entitled to receive a percentage of his average weekly pay while he recovers from his ailments. There may also be additional compensation in the event of disability or death.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act permits maritime workers who qualify as seamen to receive compensation for their injuries. To qualify, a worker must spend at least 30 percent of his work hours aboard a vessel, and he must be permanently assigned to the ship.
Unlike the LHWCA, the Jones Act requires workers to demonstrate their injuries were caused by their employers, coworkers, or the unseaworthiness of the vessel. The Jones Act entitles seamen to compensation for past and future medical costs, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. These settlements may be far more substantial than benefits available under the LHWCA.
If you were injured while working at sea, you may be entitled to compensation under the LHWCA or the Jones Act. Furthermore, when a loved one dies, his spouse, children, dependent relatives, or parents may file a civil action under U.S. Code Section 30302 against the individuals responsible for his death.
These laws are complicated, and you need an experienced maritime injury attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.