Service on the water has always come with risks, from dealing with unusual equipment to getting washed overboard. That does not stop dedicated workers from keeping shipping, fishing and resource extraction operations running to fuel and feed the country. And the federal government has taken steps to help the people who get this vital work done.
There are three possible sources of help for a worker in a maritime-based industry if there has been an injury or illness in the line of duty. The first is the Jones Act, a century-old law governing American shipping on the high seas, covers vessel crews if they require help with recovery.
This law may not offer protection to some workers in jobs related to maritime operations. Dockworkers, shipbreakers and stevedores are some of the jobs that are often covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
How do we know if an injury is covered by the LHWCA? There are two legal issues that need to be satisfied. The first is where the injury happened, as it must be close to maritime activity on navigable waters. The second is the type of work, which must be related to a maritime industry.
If one of these conditions is not met, a state’s workers’ compensation laws may cover the incident instead as a third option. One of the best ways to determine the help to which a worker is entitled is to discuss a workplace injury with a lawyer. An attorney can help figure out which act covers a specific injury and the best way to claim the compensation a worker needs to recover.