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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.

The law did not start out as perfect, and changing labor conditions caused some changes. For instance, some ship operators required contracts with workers that relieved them of liability because they did not want to pay out after an injury on board. Changes to the law in the 1970s and the 1980s helped define who gets compensation under the act.

In its current form, the law is most concerned with the nature of risk that workers face. Maritime workers and drillers on oil platforms are often dealing with dangerous equipment, bad weather and other causes of serious trauma. Office workers do not face those risks and would, therefore, be covered by a state's workers' compensation laws.

If workers need help with a claim under the act, an attorney may help provide it. A lawyer can review the evidence of an injury on the job and consult on how to file it.

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