Dock Workers and Workers' Compensation ClaimsMany people who are hurt on a New York City construction site file claims for state workers’ compensation benefits. While this program does pay for wage losses and medical treatment, it also imposes limits on the amount and length of payments a worker can receive. For this reason, it is worth exploring whether federal compensation laws apply to your case—especially if you were working on or near the water.

Federal Programs That Compensate Injured Maritime Workers

Construction employees who work on docks, aboard ships, or other maritime environments may be entitled to much more than state workers’ comp benefits. Depending on the nature of your work, you may be entitled to benefits under multiple compensation laws, some of which could offer higher payments that continue indefinitely.

The type of law and compensation that applies to your case depends on many different factors, including:

  • Where the work took place. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) protects employees who are working by or over the water. Some common maritime construction activities include dock building, bridge and tunnel work, stevedoring, pier renovation, or demolition of maritime structures.
  • The status of the worker. The Jones Act is another maritime law, but it applies to people who are members of the crew on a vessel in navigation. In order to apply, the person must have seaman status, meaning he or she spends a third of total work hours on a ship, barge, or other vessel. Fishermen are covered under the Jones Act, but it may also be applied to ferry operators, cruise ship workers, and tour boat employees. Under the Jones Act, an employee is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits if they are struck by materials, slip on wet surfaces, or suffer other injuries in the course of their duties. They also have the right to sue an employer or vessel owner for negligence or unseaworthiness—something that is prohibited under state workers’ compensation.
  • Whether the accident resulted in a death. If a construction accident on navigable waters caused the death of a worker (such as falling overboard), family members may recover for financial losses under the Death on High Seas Act. This Act is often applied in conjunction with the Jones Act, which pays for the pain and suffering the worker experienced before death.

NY State and City Laws Can Affect Your Maritime Construction Claim

New York has its own state and local statutes that can apply in a construction accident injury claim. Under New York state labor laws, construction workers have a protected right to work with adequate equipment, be trained in safe procedures, and have reasonable work restrictions and environments that prevent injury.

A New York injury attorney should examine whether the following laws apply to your claim:

  • Labor Law 200. This statute allows workers to sue employers if a dangerous condition was responsible for causing injury or death on a work site.
  • Labor Law 240. Section 240, commonly known as the New York Scaffold Law, gives construction workers who are injured in work at height to bring a lawsuit against contractors, project managers, and building owners. The Scaffold Law covers both injuries caused by falls from an elevated level and injuries caused when a worker is struck by a falling object.
  • Labor Law 241. This section outlines the safety precautions that must be taken in various types of construction throughout the state. Regulations are given for a wide range of construction activities, including excavation, demolition, welding, crane operations, walking on slippery surfaces, and even drinking clean water.

If you have been injured on a construction site, we can examine which laws apply to your case and get you the maximum amount of compensation you are owed for your medical treatment and lost ability to earn a living. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a maritime injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.