Does Maritime Law Cover Accidents That Occur on Land?

Maritime Injuries Aug 31, 2022

Not all maritime workers spend their days on the water. In fact, many maritime workers have jobs that exclusively involve spending time on land. If you have a land-based job, or if you split your time between the land and the water, what are your legal rights when you get injured?

Maritime Law Covers Accidents That Occur on Land in Many Cases

The good news is that maritime law covers accidents that occur on land in many cases. If you work in a maritime occupation and you suffered injuries in a fall, lift accident, or any other type of accident on the job, you may be entitled to compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or the Jones Act.

1. LHWCA Claims for Accidents on Land

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers land-based maritime employees. This includes not only longshoremen and harbor workers but also dock hands, shipbuilders, ship repairers, lift operators, and other employees whose jobs involve working with vessels or working on maritime facilities such as docks, harbors, ports, wharfs, and marinas.

The LHWCA does not cover employees whose jobs fall outside of this realm, even if they work in a maritime setting. For example, land-based office personnel, employees of clubs and recreational businesses, and aquaculture workers are not eligible to file maritime law claims (although they may be eligible to file claims under state workers’ compensation laws).

For eligible maritime employees who suffer injuries on land, the LHWCA provides compensation similar to that provided by state workers’ compensation laws. This includes coverage for medical expenses and partial wage replacement during periods of disability. In most cases, injured maritime employees can receive two-thirds of their weekly wage while they are unable to work (total disability) or a reduced amount if they are able to work in a limited capacity (partial disability).

2. Jones Act Claims for Accidents on Land

The Jones Act also covers accidents occurring on land in some cases. If a maritime worker qualifies as a “seaman” under the Jones Act, the law covers all of the worker’s job-related activities—including activities that are land-based. To qualify as a seaman, a worker must generally:

  • Spend a substantial portion of his or her time (usually at least 30 percent) working on a vessel; and,
  • Work on a vessel that is floating in navigable waters, operational and capable of moving under its own power.

For example, let’s say a Jones Act seaman is at the port, carrying supplies to the vessel on which he or she works. The seaman slips on spilled marine engine oil and suffers debilitating injuries in the fall. In this scenario, even though the seaman was not injured onboard the vessel, he or she would still likely have a claim for compensation under the Jones Act. Depending on the circumstances involved, the seaman may be limited to collecting maintenance and cure benefits, or the seaman may have a claim for Jones Act negligence.

Common Accidents on Land Covered By Maritime Law

So, we know that the LHWCA and the Jones Act both provide compensation for accidents occurring on land in appropriate cases. Now, when can longshoremen, harbor workers, seamen, and other eligible workers file claims? Here are some more examples of common accidents on land that are covered by maritime law:

  • Slip-and-Fall and Trip-and-Fall Accidents Slips and trips are common causes of injuries at docks, harbors, ports, wharfs, and marinas. From seawater and gasoline to lines and PFDs left on the ground, numerous hazards can lead to unexpected and harmful falls.
  • Falls from Height – Falls from the upper stories of boat storage facilities, from the tops of shipping containers, and from other raised locations can cause serious injuries. These include bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, and concussions (among others).
  • Boat Lift and Forklift Accidents – Boat lifts and forklifts can be extremely dangerous if not properly maintained and operated appropriately. Accidents involving boat lifts and forklifts are common causes of injuries at ports, marinas, and other maritime locations.
  • Bending, Twisting and Lifting Accidents – An accident does not have to involve serious trauma to result in serious injuries. Bending, twisting, and lifting accidents are also common causes of injuries on land that are covered under maritime law.
  • Pinning and Crushing Accidents – Land-based maritime workers and seamen who are pinned or crushed by moving vessels or shipping containers can file claims under the LHWCA or the Jones Act. These accidents often result in severe and debilitating injuries as well.
  • Hand Tool, Power Tool and Welding Accidents – Shipbuilders, ship repairers, and other maritime employees who work with hand tools, power tools, and welding equipment face various risks on the job. Even if an employee accidentally causes his or her own injuries, the employee can still file a claim under the LHWCA or the Jones Act.
  • Crane and Other Heavy Equipment Accidents – Accidents involving cranes and other heavy equipment at docks and ports are far more common than they should be. When these accidents happen, maritime workers who get hurt can—and should—file claims for benefits.
  • Dry Dock Accidents Working in a dry dock also presents various risks. From shifting vessels to flooding waters, numerous hazards can put dry dock workers at risk for serious or even life-threatening, injuries.
  • Electrocution Accidents – Electrocution is a very real risk for many maritime workers on land. Electrocution injuries are covered under the LHWCA and the Jones Act in appropriate cases.
  • Toxic Exposure Accidents – Exposure to toxic fumes, chemicals and other substances can cause injuries ranging from skin burns to lung damage. The LHWCA and the Jones Act provide coverage for eligible workers who suffer harm from toxic exposure on land as well.

Were You Injured in a Maritime Accident on Land? Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you were injured in a maritime accident on land and need to know more about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free and confidential consultation. Call 800-468-4878 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. 

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