Frischhertz & Impastato

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My office is on the water. Do I qualify for workers' comp?

Maritime workers have a unique job, and with that job comes a unique set of laws that govern how they are covered if they are injured. While most industries cover their employees under a typical workers' compensation plan, it's a little different in the maritime industry.

There are two laws that allow you to seek compensation as a maritime worker: the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Jones Act. The LHWCA is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care and vocational rehabilitation services for employees disabled from on-the-job injuries that occur on the water or in adjoining areas used for vessel care.

So who exactly qualifies as an employee under the LHWCA?

Traditional maritime workers and the LHWCA

"Traditional" maritime occupations are protected by the LHWCA. These include longshore workers, ship repairers, shipbuilders or shipbreakers, and harbor construction workers. It also covers some offshore oil riggers, roustabouts and platform workers, as the LHWCA covers non-maritime employees if they perform their work on navigable water and the injury occurs there.

Adjoining areas for vessel care covered under the LHWCA include:

  • Piers
  • Docks
  • Terminals
  • Wharves
  • Areas for loading and unloading a vessel
  • Areas for repairing a vessel
  • Areas for building a vessel

What if the LHWCA doesn't cover me?

As mentioned, the Jones Act is available as well, covering a wide range of seaman. This includes captains, mates, engineers and other crew members on a variety of vessels.

One key difference between the LHWCA - and other workers' compensation in general - and the Jones Act is that the Jones Act requires employees to prove negligence on the part of their employer for a claim to be successful. That burden of proof is not usually applicable for other workers' compensation claims.

If you need help with a Jones Act claim, or think you may qualify for coverage under the LHWCA, you can contact a maritime injury attorney to discuss your options and help work through the claims process for a successful outcome.

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