There are a number of federal laws and regulations in place to protect and provide benefits to people who earn their living in the vast maritime industry. Probably the best-known of these is the Jones Act. Among the many things that this law, which is over a century old, does is help ensure compensation for crew members of a vessel who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses.
These workers are simply known as “seamen” in the language of the Jones Act. They’re more specifically referred to as “master or member of a crew of any vessel” under another law that’s nearly a century old — the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).
The LHWCA doesn’t cover those crew members covered by the Jones Act. In fact. it specifically excludes those who are “doing the ship’s work by contributing to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission,” according to the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC), which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Who and what does the LHWCA cover?
The LHWCA covers longshore, harbor and other workers in the maritime industry who work in construction, repair and other types of jobs in and around shipyards and waterfronts. The LHWCA provides some compensation for lost wages as well as coverage for medical care and rehabilitation for workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. It also provides survivor benefits for loved ones if a worker dies as a result of their injuries or illness.
While you can and should apply for these benefits if you’ve suffered an injury or illness or a loved one has been killed. However, if there was any negligence involved, you may be able to file a suit against the responsible party (or parties). It’s wise not to leave anything to chance when your career and financial future are on the line. It’s a good idea to have experienced legal guidance.