If a worker on a water vessel becomes injured, then they may be eligible to file either a claim under the Jones or Longshore Act. Many employers don’t understand the subtle differences between the two well enough to be able to advise their employees which to file.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and Jones Act (JA) aren’t mutually exclusive. Instead, the former is a type of workers’ compensation coverage, whereas the latter is used by those looking to hold negligent parties accountable in a personal injury case.
Another difference between the Longshore and Jones Acts is that the LHWCA covers maritime workers that are land-based. The JA applies solely to seamen. This can include crew members and masters on a vessel.
In order for workers to be covered under the JA, they must hold a position connected to the navigation of a ship or a group of ships. The occupational test for qualifying to file a JA claim is that the injured individual must have been connected to the vessel substantially for a period of time before they were hurt. It doesn’t specify for how long. Also, their work must also be directly related to helping the vessel accomplish its mission.
Section 902(3) of the Longshore Act specifies that those covered under it include ship repairmen, harbor workers, those working in longshoring operations, ship breakers and shipbuilders. The injuring incident must have occurred either in U.S. waters or a dock where loading, dismantling, unloading or building occurs.
Anyone required to work at sea as part of their maritime occupation, including construction workers, are covered according to Section 903(a) of the Longshore Act.
Understanding whether you qualify to file a claim under the Jones Act or the Longshore Act is not easy to do. You may be entitled to receive compensation such as reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering or funeral costs, depending on which type of claim you file. In learning more about your case, a Louisiana Jones Act attorney can advise you of which Act offers protections in your situation.