Maritime Workers' Compensation: Key Details and Coverage

Whether you are a seamen or passenger onboard a ship, you have certain rights that are protected by maritime laws. Shipping companies, cruises, and other vessels fall under maritime law. Unfortunately, some of the maritime laws can be challenging to navigate. If you or your loved one got injured while aboard a ship, you need to contact a maritime attorney. However, before you do that, let us go over the key details and coverage of maritime workers' compensation.

What Is Maritime Workers' Compensation?

Workers' compensation is a type of business insurance for maritime operators. It allows employers to protect their employees if a work-related injury occurs. It also allows employers to avoid liability for injuries. The employees also benefit from insurance as they get financial coverage for their injuries. Working in the maritime industry is considered high-risk as the employees have to contend with dangerous equipment and tough working conditions. They also might not have access to comprehensive medical care while being a long distance from the shore.

Who is Covered Under Maritime Workers Compensation?

There are two categories of workers that are covered under maritime workers' compensation. The first category are seamen. The second category is everyone else who is not a seaman but is near the water or working on the vessel. A seaman is someone who works on any ship or boat. This could range from a small fish boat to a large cruise liner. The type of work and the circumstances of the injury are considered to determine who is eligible for a workers' compensation claim. The maritime workers' compensation is designed to provide equal rights to seamen as the other workers covered under federal law.

Determining Eligibility for Maritime Workers' Compensation

The injured employee can check their eligibility for maritime workers' compensation through two tests for “status” and “location”. The Status Test determines whether the worker performs maritime work. For the injured worker to pass this test, they have to prove that a portion of their work directly involved working on or with a maritime vessel. They don’t necessarily have to be on the vessel at all times. For example, mechanics who maintain or repair trucks that carry cargo to and from the ship can pass the status test as their job contributes to the maritime nature of the business.

The second test is the Situs Test which relates to the location of the worker at the time of the injury. To pass the Situs Test, the injured worker needs to prove that they work on, near or adjacent to navigable water. This can be ocean, sea, lake, river, or other types of water. Even if a worker is physically far from the shoreline, if their work contributed to the maritime business, they could pass the Situs Test as long as their work requires them to be on the maritime business property.

Understanding the Jones Act

The workers' compensation claim is closely linked to the Jones Act, as both offer protection to maritime workers. The Jones Act passed in 1920, is a federal law in the United States that regulates maritime commerce. The Act is designed to protect the rights of injured seamen. Under the Jones Act, the seaman has the right to sue their employer for their injury. The seamen would have to prove that their injury was a result of the employer’s negligence or wrongdoing.

For the injury to be covered under the Jones Act, the seamen must be on a vessel that is in navigation. This means that the vessel must be afloat, capable of moving, in operation, and on navigable waters. This means that any vessel that is permanently attached to land, such as an oil rig, might not qualify as a vessel for Jones Act.

Types of Benefits Available in Maritime Workers' Compensation

There are a variety of benefits available in maritime workers' compensation. This includes medical treatment such as emergency care, surgery, and physical therapy. The injured maritime workers might also receive financial compensation due to lost wages or loss of earning potential due to the injury. Other types of benefits included in maritime workers' compensation include temporary disability and permanent disability compensation.

How Can a Maritime Attorney Help?

If you or your loved one got injured working as a maritime worker, you may qualify for maritime workers' compensation. Working with an experienced maritime lawyer can help you protect your rights, and gain full and fair compensation for your suffering. They can also help you compile evidence to support your claim and can represent you in a court of law if you decide to sue your employer. It is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible so they can get involved early in the case and help guide you each step of the way. You can read more here about maritime workers' compensation.
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