Just like any other employee, maritime workers have protections afforded to them under the law. Even though most employment law is dependent on the state you work in, maritime law works a little differently under federal oversight.
There are various laws that aim to protect maritime workers from death, injury, and other hazards. While these laws may seem confusing, the lawyers at Morris Bart explain simply the most important laws and how each of them helps maritime workers.
The Death on the High Seas Act
Passed in 1920, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) provides family members of wrongful death victims to recover financial compensation at the at-fault party’s expense. However, the DOHSA doesn’t cover all deaths, as the death must have:
- Occurred on a boat more than three miles off the coast of the U.S.
- Proof that it was preventable and caused by negligence.
If these factors are present in the death of a loved one at sea, then the DOHSA allows you to file a claim. This act is always effective whenever a person is on a boat and can even apply to planes if they’re flying over open waters. You don’t have to be a seaman or working on a boat to qualify for the protections provided by this act.
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The Jones Act
Under 46 U.S. Code § 30104, the Jones Act allows seaman and employees of vessels to file a claim after sustaining an injury. Because state labor and workers’ compensation laws only apply to employees actually residing and working in the state, the Jones Act is critical for seamen to get the justice they need.
The Jones Act allows for seamen and sailors to receive compensation for various damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced earning capability
- Lost wages
Remember, the Jones Act only applies to workers out at sea. You’ll need to prove that negligence caused your damages in order for you to recover compensation for them. Similar to the DOHSA, the Jones Act can also apply to airlines.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (LHWC) provides workers’ compensation benefits to maritime workers that aren’t on vessels. LHWC provides protection to:
- Harbor workers
- Oil rig workers
- Gas rig workers
Compared with the Jones Act, LHWC can provide quick compensation for maritime workers who get injured on the job. The claims get filed with the Department of Labor, and a payout comes shortly after. The downside is that you can’t recover compensation for certain damages such as pain and suffering.
The compensation you receive under LHWC is roughly 66% or ⅔ of their average weekly wages plus any medical expenses related to your injury. Most maritime workers either fall under this act or the Jones Act when it comes to protection from injuries. It all depends on your job’s function and where you work.
Legal Protections for Maritime Workers Don’t Last Forever
Even though the law offers maritime workers protections, that doesn’t mean those protections last forever. There is an expiration date, otherwise known as the statute of limitations, for all three of the above laws.
The DOHSA and the Jones Act both have three-year statutes of limitations. This means you have three years from the date of your injury or wrongful death to build a strong case and file your claim. However, there are always exceptions that can apply.
LHWC protections only give one year for injury victims to file a claim so long as they notify their employer within 30 days. Once again, there are exceptions that can extend this deadline, but these aren’t common and require lots of effort.
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What Kinds of Protections Will I Have as a Maritime Worker?
The three acts listed above provide general overarching protections to the vast majority of maritime workers. However, if you want to know specifically what rights and protections you have in your field, it’s best to contact a lawyer. Don’t wait until the last minute to get professional legal assistance, especially if you’ve recently gotten injured on the job.
Get Experienced Legal Help Today
If you sustained any damages due to your injuries, the offshore injury lawyers at Morris Bart can help you get started with your claim. We can help you understand the protections you have under the law and assist you in getting the best settlement possible. Contact us today to receive a free consultation.
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