Injuries are a common occurrence in the maritime industries, and any given day of work comes with risks. The duties of many workers take them back and forth between a vessel and land, and injuries can occur anywhere. Unfortunately, pursuing fair payment after an accident can be a difficult task without access to traditional workers’ compensation.
The Jones Act allows injured seamen to pursue personal injury actions against their employers, but what happens when an accident occurs on land? In certain cases, even land-based injuries are compensable under the Jones Act. If not, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides another means for injured maritime employees to pursue compensation.
To qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, an injured worker must be considered a seaman, meaning he or she spends at least 30 percent of work hours on a vessel in navigation. The vessel does not have to be moving to qualify, but it must be at least:
The vessel must have been built in the United States, have at least 75 percent U.S. ownership, and be crewed by at least 75 percent American sailors. If you and your vessel meet these criteria, you may be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, even if your work-related injury occurred on land.
While the Jones Act covers seamen who work towards the function of the vessel, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers land-based maritime industry employees. The Longshore Act applies to harbor workers, ship repairmen, ship builders, and others in related fields. These jobs may occur on navigable waters or nearby land typically used for ship construction, repairs, loading, or unloading. It is also important to note that these two acts are mutually exclusive and cannot both be used for one claim. Additionally, the LHWCA provides workers’ compensation benefits rather than allowing injury victims to sue their employers.
If you or a loved one was injured while working at your maritime industry job, you could be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act or the Longshore Act, even if the accident occurred on land. The eligibility requirements for each act can be confusing, but an experienced maritime injury attorney can help you decide how to proceed. Reach out to the experienced Louisiana injury attorneys at Laborde Earles to get the legal guidance you need.