The Jones Act can cover dockside workers’ injuries, but this is relatively rare. In most cases, they will not qualify as seamen under this law unless they work offshore regularly.
However,some maritime laws and provisions give dockside workers a way to pursue compensation and benefits after a work-related injury. A maritime injury attorney can help you identify your rights and how to file a claim.
Who Qualifies As a ‘Seaman’ Under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act, 46 U.S. Code § 30104, is part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It creates several duties for employers, ship owners, and others, making provisions that allow qualifying seamen to pursue damages in a negligence claim. Understanding what the Jones Act does requires understanding the law’s legal definition of a seaman.
The only maritime workers who have rights under the Jones Act are those who meet these requirements:
- Workers on a vessel that navigates offshore, not permanently docked
- Workers whose jobs contribute to the mission of the boat
- Workers with a substantial connection to the ship, usually spending at least 30 percent of their work hours at sea
A Jones Act seaman will meet all these criteria. However, if you are not sure, a Jones Act lawyer can assess your case for free to determine if you qualify for the provisions afforded by this law.
How This Definition Affects Dockside Workers
Dockside workers’ injuries may fall under the Jones Act under some circumstances, but this is not common. The criteria for Jones Act coverage requires the worker to spend a substantial portion of their working hours on the ship offshore. Most dockside workers do not spend enough time on a seafaring vessel to qualify.
However, this fact does not mean dockside workers do not have rights under maritime law. Dockside workers could pursue benefits through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) or under general maritime law.
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Understanding the LHWCA
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides an option for workers’ compensation benefits for those who might not qualify under state laws because of where they work. The LHWCA may cover:
- Dockside workers
- Longshore workers
- Ship repairers
- Dockside construction workers
- Harbor workers
- Oil and gas workers, in some cases
In general, these workers or their families could seek damages when:
- They are hurt at work
- They become ill because of a work-related exposure or experience
- They died due to a work-related injury or illness
A few exclusions to getting coverage exist under the LHWCA. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this includes:
- Those who qualify under the Jones Act
- Those injured by their intoxication
- Those hurt due to their willful actions meant to cause harm to themselves or others
Those who do qualify for benefits under LHWCA may recover:
- Wage loss benefits
- Medical care coverage
- Vocational rehabilitation if needed to return to work
- Benefits for the family if the victim dies from their injuries
What About General Maritime Law?
General maritime law is the body of common law, case law, and other non-statutory rules that offer protections to maritime workers not covered by the Jones Act or LHWCA. Dockside workers who do not meet the criteria to pursue damages under either of these options may file a claim based on general maritime law.
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An Attorney Can Help You Pursue and Secure a Settlement
There is no requirement to hire a law firm to represent you, but a maritime lawyer can significantly strengthen your claim and help you recover compensation. When you work with an attorney who regularly handles maritime law cases, they will:
- Determine what caused your injury and who may be responsible
- Gather evidence to prove your case
- Work with medical experts and others to bolster your claim
- Document your damages, including injuries, expenses, and losses
- Meet any applicable deadlines
- File your claim and negotiate for a just settlement
- Sue the negligent party, if needed
Most maritime law attorneys work for personal injury firms and handle these cases on contingency. Therefore, you would not pay any upfront fees to get started.
Morris Bart, LLC Represents Injured Dockside Workers Hurt in Our Service Area
The Morris Bart law firm helps injured dockside workers understand their rights and the laws that provide the opportunity to seek compensation. You can speak with a member of our maritime law team today for free during your complimentary initial consultation. We have 15 offices in four states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 today to speak with a team member about your legal options. We are here to help.
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