The Jones Act, also referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, applies to seamen in service of a vessel that operates in navigable waters. This means that people employed as land-based maritime workers – such as dock and harbor workers – do not generally qualify for compensation under the Jones Act.
Fortunately, if you do not qualify for compensation under the Jones Act because of your status a dock worker, it is very likely that you qualify for compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). No matter what laws might apply to your injury, assistance from an experienced Jones Act attorney of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. can vastly increase your prospects of getting the compensation you need to get back on your feet.
Call us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free case consultation.
When Does the Jones Act Apply to Me?
The Jones Act applies to you if you are seaman. A seaman is someone who spends at least 30 percent of their time in service of a vessel that is in navigation. These vessels include fishing boats, tankers, ferries, container ships, barges, and more.
Furthermore, your employment duties must contribute to the ship’s functions or to the accomplishment of its mission. This means that if you get injured while on a ship that operates in navigable waters, you are not automatically covered by the Jones Act; you must spend a significant time in service of the ship in order to be covered by the Act. A dock worker who slips and falls while making a brief delivery to a ship, for example, will probably not be able to recover compensation under the Jones Act.
Who is Covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
If you are a maritime worker who does not meet the definition of a seaman under the Jones Act, it is probable that you are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The act applies to people who work in land-based maritime professions such as dock and harbor workers, shipbuilders, shipbreakers, and ship repairers.
As with the Jones Act, the LHWCA requires that your job take place in or around navigable waters. This includes piers, wharfs, terminals, dry docks, oil and gas terminals, and other areas used for loading, unloading, dismantling, building, or repairing a vessel.
What Compensation is Available Under the LHWCA?
Making an injury claim under the LHWCA functions much in the same way as a workers’ compensation claim. You do not need to prove your employer’s negligence. If you get injured on the job, your employer is legally bound to compensate you for your medical expenses, loss of earning capacity (two-thirds of weekly pay), and loss of future earning capacity if you’re unable to return to work. If you collect compensation under the LHWCA, however, you will be unable to sue your employer for negligence. That being said, you are allowed to sue third parties for negligence even if you collected workers’ compensation benefits form your employer through the LHWCA.
What Compensation Is Available Under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act was enacted to give injured seamen the ability to sue their employers for negligence. Additionally, injured seamen have a right to maintenance and cure benefits. This requires the ship owner to pay for your daily expenses and medical treatment until you’ve reached the point of maximum medical improvement. To obtain maintenance and cure benefits, you do not have to prove the negligence of the ship owner, its officers, or any of the crew.
How a Houston Jones Act Attorney Can Help
Negligence claims offer a wider range of compensation for your injury than either LHWCA compensation or Jones Act benefits. For example, a negligence claim can allow you to recover damages for the physical pain and mental anguish that resulted from your injury. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we have a proven track record of helping maritime professionals get the compensation they deserve after an injury.