Jones Act vs Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act

Question: Does the Jones Act or the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act apply to me?

Answer: If you’ve been injured while doing maritime work, you may be able to recover for your injuries pursuant to federal law.

There Are Multiple Federal Laws to Protect Injured Maritime Workers

The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are two federal laws that protect maritime workers who are injured on the job. However, the laws are mutually exclusive, which means that if you qualify for one, you will not qualify for the other.

Generally, if you are the "master or member of a crew of any vessel," you are excluded from the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Instead, you may be considered a seaman and you may have the right to recover damages pursuant to the Jones Act.

The Difference Matters

The damages you can recover pursuant to the Jones Act are different from the damages you can recover pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and the way the damages are decided may also be different. Consider, for example:

  • How damages are decided. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation cases are determined through an administrative system within the United States Department of Labor. If an agreement cannot be reached in a Jones Act case, however, the injured party has the right to bring the case to court and to have a judge or jury decide on damages.
  • The amount of damages that are possible. A Jones Act recovery may include full compensation for medical bills up to the point where you’ve made maximum medical improvement and for other costs incurred as a result of your injury. A Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act recovery, however, is decided by the terms set in that law.

For these reasons, it is important to know which law applies to your unique case. Please start a live chat with us if you’ve been injured doing maritime work and we will help you sort through your legal options.

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