If you are a longshoreman, or you work anywhere in the maritime industry, and you get injured, then you would look to workers’ compensation coverage to pay your medical bills and other expenses. Maritime workers, however, could be covered by one of two different types of workers’ compensation plans: either coverage under something called The Jones Act or The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, otherwise known as the Longshore Act.  Determining which one applies can sometimes be a challenge.  

In this article, we are going to cover the details of both acts, look at what is different about each, and discuss the confusion when the laws they overlap. Because there is a lot of gray areas here, you would be wise to get an experienced Longshore Workers’ Compensation Act Lawyer in Jacksonville in your corner if you suffer an injury. 

If you have additional questions pertaining to your own personal circumstances after reviewing this article, then we invite you to contact the Longshore & Harbor Worker Compensation Attorneys in Jacksonville, FL – RITE Law. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. Remember, we provide a free case evaluation, so call today.

Coverage of Maritime Negligence – The Jones Act

If the crew on your ship was not trained properly, or there were not enough sailors on board the ship or the cargo was not fastened to the ship’s hull in a safe manner, then that could be considered “negligence.” Those types of negligence could very easily lead to injuries. Further, if you are injured as a result of such negligence, then you would likely be covered under the Jones Act. The Jones Act, enacted in 1920, and updated as recently as 2006, was made into law so that those on the high seas would have financial protection in case someone’s neglect ended in injury.  

Any person on board a ship, from captain to the lowest employee is covered by the Jones Act as long as they spend at least 30 percent of their time on a boat that is in a floating and operable vessel. A boat would be “in navigation” and thereby the Jones Act would apply even if it was docked. That is because it is still floating and operable. A ship in a dry dock, however, would not be considered “in navigation.”  

The Jones Act is different from normal workers’ compensation-type laws because it provides for someone to sue in court for an act of negligence. That means that those who are injured can claim negligence damages like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a person is killed due to another’s negligence, then the Jones Act provides for the family of the deceased sailor. 

Workers’ Compensation – The Longshore Act

In contrast to the Jones Act, the Longshore Act is meant to allow for workers’ compensation coverage – payment for medical and other costs that are not tied to the fault or negligence of an employer or any other part. The Longshore Act is specifically intended to compensate for injuries that occur on the navigable waters or ports in the U.S.  

Similar to the Jones Act, however, the Longshore Act is focused on allowing coverage of those engaged in work in the maritime industry, such as longshoreman (as the title suggests) and people who take ships apart in a harbor. 

Like many workers’ compensation programs, certain damages like payments for life quality loss or mental anguish benefits are not allowed under the Longshore Act.  

How Are The Laws Different?

Because both the Jones Act and the Longshore Act cover those who are engaged in maritime work, you may think that they both apply to injured maritime workers. That, however, is not the case.

Indeed, you cannot use one without losing your ability to use the other.  Here is why:

1. Different workers. The Jones Act covers those who spend at least 30 percent of their time on a ship, whereas the Longshore Act gives coverage to maritime workers who, specifically, are not crew members or masters on a boat.  

2. Different benefits.  The Jones Act is a remedy that allows someone to sue in court for negligence. Thus, all the kinds of damages – including pain and suffering – that you can normally get in a personal injury lawsuit, you can get under the Jones Act. The Longshore Act, by contrast, does not allow for certain damage awards like pain and suffering. That is because workers’ compensation programs are designed to avoid lawsuits in court, not allow them.   

3. Different administration of benefits. The Jones Act case is handled in regular courtrooms. The Longshore Act, by contrast, is a program administered by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  

So, Which One Applies to You?

In many cases, it is clear which one should apply. For example, if you are a longshoreman, then you do not spend time on a ship, and therefore the Longshore Act applies. Yet, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out whether someone actually spends 30 percent of their time on a vessel – thus calling into question whether the Jones Act can apply. In addition, there is often some debate as to whether a ship can be considered “in navigation” to qualify for Jones Act coverage. To get some clear guidance, you should contact a Longshore Workers’ Compensation Act Lawyer in Jacksonville.

Get Help for Your Claim from Longshore Workers’ Compensation Act Lawyers in Jacksonville

Our RITE Law attorneys focus on a Longshore Act practice. That experience can be invaluable if you make a Longshore Act claim, particularly in a new area such as COVID-19 illness. At RITE Law, we started the firm for one reason – to help those in Florida and elsewhere have the resources of a firm that was “big enough to fight but small enough to care.” At Rudolph, Israel, Tucker & Ellis (RITE law), we have the resources and experience to go to trial when it is necessary, and we have the wisdom to advise you appropriately.  

Without help from the RITE Law Longshore & Harbor Worker Compensation attorneys in Jacksonville, making Longshore Act claims can be very difficult. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.