A Brief Look at the Laws That Protect Offshore and Maritime Workers

Jones Act Feb 7, 2023

As someone who works offshore or in the maritime industry, there are laws that protect you when you get injured at work. However, knowing which laws apply – and how to use them to maximize your financial recovery – can be a challenge. The following is a brief overview of the laws that provide compensation when offshore and maritime workers get hurt or injured on the job.

1. The Jones Act

Who It Covers: The Jones Act applies to offshore workers who qualify as “seamen.” This includes workers onboard tankers, freighters, tugboats, barges, fishing boats, supply boats, crew boats, jackup rigs, and other vessels. It also includes crewmembers on floating oil rigs and jack-up drilling rigs.

Compensation Available: Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can potentially file two different claims for compensation: (i) a claim for no-fault “maintenance and cure” benefits and (ii) a claim for full financial compensation based on the negligence of the employer or others.

2. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

Who It Covers: The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) applies to offshore workers who do not qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act. This includes workers on fixed oil platforms and oil rigs, as well as certain longshoremen, harbor workers, dock men and other maritime employees.

Compensation Available: Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, injured workers are entitled to certain benefits regardless of who is to blame for their injuries. These include benefits for disability (lost income), medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses and retraining expenses. However, unlike the Jones Act, the OCSLA does not include a provision for injured workers to seek full compensation from their employers.

3. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Who It Covers: The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) applies to longshoremen, harbor workers, ship repairmen, shipbuilders, ship breakers, and certain other maritime employees whose jobs involve working with vessels on piers, dry docks, wharves and shipping terminals.

Compensation Available: The benefits available under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are similar to those that are available under the OCSLA.

4. State Workers’ Compensation Laws

Who It Covers: State workers’ compensation laws apply to maritime workers who are not covered by the laws discussed above. This includes individuals employed in the maritime industry who work in clerical, secretarial, security and data processing positions, as well as those who work in maritime environments but not specifically within the maritime industry.

Compensation Available: While workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, they generally provide for no-fault benefits similar to those available under the OCSLA and LHWCA.

5. Maritime Law

Who It Covers: Maritime law, including the law of unseaworthiness and the law of maritime negligence, applies to all workers who get injured on the job.

Compensation Available: Maritime law makes full injury compensation available to those workers who are able to demonstrate that a company or individual (other than their employer) is at fault for their injuries. This includes vessel owners under the law of unseaworthiness, as well as contractors, subcontractors and other third parties under the law of maritime negligence.

Consult an Experienced Maritime Lawyer at the Willis Law Firm

If you were injured on the job and would like to learn more about your legal rights, contact the Willis Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. Licensed in Texas and New York, maritime lawyer David Willis has decades of experience representing injured workers nationwide. To schedule your free consultation, please call 1-800-GOT HURT or inquire online today.

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