If you have been injured while doing maritime work, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries under federal laws designed to protect you. The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) 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.

When Is an Injured Maritime Worker Covered Under the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law that allows maritime employees who are seamen to obtain compensation for their injuries. These are workers who are permanently assigned to a vessel and spend at least 30 percent of their work time on the vessel. A vessel is defined broadly to include oil rigs, jack-up barges, shipping boats, and more. A worker must show that his employer’s or co-worker’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel led to his injuries.

What Are the Differences in Compensation Under the Jones Act and the LHWCA?

The compensation an injured maritime worker can receive is very different under the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Here is what workers can recover under these laws:

Jones Act

  • Under the Jones Act, a seaman is entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. Injured workers can receive much larger settlements under the Jones Act than under the LHWCA.


  • An injured worker can receive past and future medical costs and a percentage of his average weekly pay for the period he is off work under the LHWCA. This is generally 66.66 percent of the worker’s income.


Which Employees Can File a Claim Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal statute that provides workers’ compensation benefits to maritime workers who are not seamen and who are not eligible for other types of workers’ compensation. It applies to workers on navigable waters and those injured on docks, terminals, harbors, piers, and dry dock facilities. Longshoremen, harbor workers, and shipbuilders can be covered under the Act. The LHWCA is similar to a state no-fault workers’ compensation law in that a worker does not have to prove fault to be entitled to benefits.

If you were injured in a maritime accident, an experienced maritime accident attorney can advise you whether you are eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or other federal and state laws. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and your legal options for compensation.

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