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Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Workers at sea have different workers' compensation laws

Have you known someone who took a full-time job just for the health benefits? Have you been that person? Some people aren't cut out for office work, but they take it so they can afford a trip to the doctor. Fortunately, when it comes to workers on the water, they have certain guarantees regardless of their employer.

This protection for maritime workers comes from the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act of 1927, which is similar to workers' compensation laws in Louisiana and other states. The federal statute was created because courts were not awarding claims to workers on boats and ships in the same way as workers on land.

When and where is admiralty law helpful?

You don't have to be miles out to sea to have the protection of admiralty law. The tradition of rules covering activities on ships and the water goes back thousands of years, but the modern versions are more than extensions of history. American admiralty law is there specifically to protect American workers with jobs that help keep the country's trade and transport moving.

How does admiralty law apply?

How commercial fishing workers can stay safe during storm season

Just because it’s storm season doesn’t mean that work stops. You still rely on fishing to make a living despite the sometimes challenging weather conditions. High winds and heavy rains can create work hazards that make hauling in the big catch difficult if not impossible.

While you need to work during storm season, you don’t want to jeopardize your life to do so. There are several key things to remember year-round on a fishing vessel, but especially during storm season.

Who can rely on the Jones Act at work?

If you're working on the water, you may be concerned about the lack of security for your situation compared to dry land. Fortunately, most workers at sea do not have to worry about a lack of workers' compensation benefits if they are injured. The Jones Act often picks up where state labor laws drop off.

  • Who is covered by the Jones Act?

People defined as seamen under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, as the Jones Act is officially known in U.S. law, may apply for benefits similar to workers' compensation in other jobs. This definition covers the captains and crews of U.S. ships, including full-time maritime employees and people who spend 30% of more of their time working on a boat or ship.

  • How do people apply for these benefits?

Shipborne accidents may be covered by 168-year-old law

Every American knows that we declared independence in 1776, and the Constitution guaranteed our rights a few years later. But most of the laws we know beyond the Bill of Rights are modern, often no more than a few decades old. But where do some of the older and lesser known laws apply to our lives?

One place where old laws often reign is on the seas off the coast of Louisiana and the other U.S. states with shorelines. A state's territorial sea extends 12 nautical miles, or nearly 14 statute miles, off of its land into the water. Beyond that, things can get complicated.

Dive boat owners seek legal protections under 1851 law

Investigators continue to look for the cause of a Sept. 2 fire off the coast of Southern California that killed 34 people aboard a dive boat. They hope for answers after the remains of the Conception were brought to the surface near Santa Barbara. Five crew members survived the fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is joined in the investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after the vessel was towed to a nearby naval installation where its power, fuel and electrical systems will be examined.

A federal law covers workers' compensation for workers at sea

Workers struggled in Louisiana and other parts of the United States for the right protections to help them do their best work and contribute to the economy. Now, workers' compensation laws are as secure as the ground under work boots. But what if there is no ground under those boots?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) exists to offer the protections expected by workers on land to workers on the rivers or sea territory of America. Some of these territories may not be exclusively covered by state regulations, and the federal government's law covers people on vessels, in shipyards and on waters within a certain distance of the United States' coast.

LHWCA covers maritime workers who work on land

If you work on a Louisiana dock loading and unloading ships, you know how dangerous your job can be. You may put yourself in dangerous situations every day just to get the job done. Just because you stay on shore doesn’t mean that your job is any safer than the jobs of workers out on the ships. But the protections that cover those workers in case of injury may not cover you.

Workers considered crew or masters of a vessel have the Jones Act to pay for any on-the-job injuries. But the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers maritime workers who work on shore.

Workers on vessels have protections from the federal government

It's pretty easy to know your rights at work when you have your feet squarely on land. But a lot of workers in Louisiana, like many in Florida and California, spend a lot of hours in the territorial waters of their state. Some may even end up in international waters in search of fish below the surface or oil beneath the rocks.

Workers injured on the job may take comfort knowing that workers' compensation acts in their states guarantee their medical expenses and help during recovery. These laws may not apply on the water, either because of jurisdiction or the types of workers injured in a maritime workplace.

The Jones Act applies to much of America's work at sea

The Jones Act may be familiar to the half of the United States' population that lives near a coastline. It is a part of the Merchant Marine Act that governs much of the trade that passed through and between American ports.

One of the requirements of the Jones Act involves the ownership and registration of the ships that carry trade between ports in the United States. Many other countries have laws like this, which save most maritime commerce activities for citizens.

Discuss your rights during a free consultation. There’s no fee unless we win.

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