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Posts made in May, 2017

The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

Longshoreman injury attorneys of Williams Kherkher explain how “most maritime accidents can be traced back to some form of negligence on the part of an employer or a vessel’s owner and, when an accident is caused by the negligence or recklessness of either party, accident victims can use the Jones Act to help hold whomever was responsible financially accountable for their pain and suffering.”

The Jones Act gives seamen them the right to sue their employer for personal injury or negligence damages. This federal maritime law, originally called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, was designed to protect seamen who get injured on the job.

To determine who are qualified for the benefits offered under the Jones Act, some terminologies are assigned their appropriate definitions:

  • Seaman. This refers to any person who spends a significant amount of his/her time on a vessel or on a specific fleet of vessel (“in navigation”) as a member of the crew member or as captain.
  • A vessel in navigation. This is any type of boat that is afloat, in operation, capable of moving and on navigable waters (this definition excludes vessels in a dry-dock or those out of the water and up on blocks; floating casino barges; oil drilling platforms; and newly built vessels that are still undergoing sea trials). “Navigable waters” refer to rivers or lakes used for interstate or foreign commerce (may oceans and landlocked lakes, but only if these extend to another state or are connected to a river that flows into another state).
  • Significant Amount of Time. In order to qualify as a seaman, a person has to spend at least 30% of his/her employment time on a vessel. Thus, anyone who works 70% of the time in the office and 30% on a vessel can be considered a seaman.

According to ship worker injury lawyers of Williams Kherkher, “The Jones Act covers employees who work on ships, rigs, crewed recreational boats, floating cranes, tankers, barges, and just about any other kind of vessel that is capable of moving on the water. Though it will not cover every person on a seafaring vessel, this legislation will cover any person that meets the legally defined requirements for being a ‘seaman.’”

In order to provide protection for other maritime workers not covered by the Jones Act, another federal law had to be passed – the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which was enacted in 1927. The LHWCA, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, “provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from on the job injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel; it also provides for payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes, or contributes to, an employee’s death. These benefits are typically paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance company on the employer’s behalf. The term “injury” includes occupational diseases, hearing loss and illnesses arising out of employment.”
It was designed to cover employees, including longshore workers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, ship-repairers, harbor construction workers, other maritime workers not covered by the Jones Act, and non-maritime employees who perform their work and get injured on navigable water.

The LHWCA, however, considers the following ineligible to receive benefits:

  • Those who get injured because they were intoxicated while working; and
  • Those who get injured due to their own willful intention to harm themselves or others.
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