Those workers who spend the majority of their time as a crew member of a navigation vessel may not be eligible for the kind of workers’ compensation benefits protected by state or federal law. Those workers deemed ‘seamen’ have different options for pursuing compensation for workplace injuries.
Eligibility for compensation
Maritime workers are generally divided into those who work on vessels and those who work in proximity to these trades and industries. Here is how the law divides compensation option with relation to maritime workers:
- Seamen: Seamen might be able to seek compensation through the protections offered under the Jones Act. For those workers who claim that their employer failed to provide a safe working environment or provide the basic care and remedies necessary to maintain ship safety, this may be their main option. Additionally, a seaman could have various claims of unseaworthiness, related to workplace safety and the proper provisions for conducting safe work on a vessel. ‘Maintenance and cure’ references a portion of maritime law that deals with an employer’s obligations to provide compensation for medical expenses and those personal financial obligations that may become delinquent while a worker recovers from an injury.
- Other maritime workers: For those maritime and harbor employees who work on or near waterways, at shipping terminals or shipyards, may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a federal workers’ compensation act.
The most common injuries for seamen
Working on a moving vessel, that is subject to changes in water conditions and weather, means that slip-and-fall injuries are fairly common. The enclosed spaces of a ship put workers at elevated risk of chemical exposure from equipment and gas build-up. The physical nature of these jobs means that repetitive-use injuries are commonplace alongside crushing and impact injuries.
Maritime law is a niche area of the law with unique complications and complexities. If you’re a maritime worker with an injury that occurred on the job, it would help to contact an attorney experienced in maritime law to guide you through the options available to you.