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Know the differences between the Jones Act and the LHWCA

If you work on or near a ship and got injured, you might be wondering what you should do. Instead of traditional workers' compensation, you have two options for filing a claim: under the Jones Act or under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

The differences between these two acts are important to know before pursuing a claim. Below is a breakdown of the two acts and which one applies to you.

Coverage for maritime workers

If you are a maritime worker, you are covered by the LHWCA. You might qualify as a maritime worker if you are one of the following:

  • Longshore worker
  • Harbor construction worker
  • Shipbuilder
  • Ship repairer
  • Ship breaker

Your injury is only covered if it occurs on navigable waters or nearby areas such as docks, piers, wharves or piers. The benefits you receive are based on the nature of your injury and the severity of your disability.

Coverage for seamen

The Jones Act is more specific: It covers seamen only. A seaman is someone who is permanently assigned to work on a vessel and is employed by a ship owner. Vessels can be ships, boats or oil rigs. If you are a seaman, you can recover for injuries occurring due to employer negligence, coworker negligence or an unseaworthy vessel.

Damages recoverable

The Jones Act provides damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and maintenance and cure. In this way, the Jones Act is similar to personal injury claims. On the other hand, the LHWCA offers damages limited to a percentage of your average weekly wage for the duration of your injury. This is more similar to workers’ compensation benefits.

Now that you know the difference between the two, hopefully your path is clearer. If you still need help determining whether you count as a seaman or maritime worker and filing your claim, consult an attorney experienced with maritime injury.

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