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What Types of Monetary Compensation Would My Family and I Be Able to Request if I was Injured While Performing My Duties at Sea?

In Jones Act Law, LHWCA, Maritime on July 17, 2009 at 7:44 PM

The Longshoremen’s and Harbors’ Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides adequate compensation for seaman who are injured in their line of work.  This coverage provides payments for medical treatment, travel costs related to medical treatment, and services or supplies which are needed to help the recovery or treatment process.  There is, of course, a lot of legality that comes into play and seeking the help of a professional maritime lawyer will always be a good first step to take.

The definition of disability in a longshoreman clause simply means the inability to perform work and receive pre-injury wages.  This covers any form of disability which will entitle you to receive a weekly compensation every two weeks and will be based from a percentage of your biweekly income before you were injured.  In 2006, it was estimated that the minimum compensation was $278.61 while the maximum was $1114.44.

The compensation for complete or short term disability is calculated at 2/3s the workers weekly average income.  This average is determined by combining the previous 52 weeks of income.  This, of course, could mean that your average might be considerably less if you suffered any periods of unemployment.

Temporary partial disability is compensated at 2/3s the weekly income loss and is based on the loss of earning potential.  Permanent partial disability compensation is intended to cover the injured employee for the loss of a body part or function.  This form of compensation is based on the payout schedule that is specified in the Longshoreman Act.  Basically this schedule appoints a specified timeline as to how long the injured employee may receive compensation.

The LHWCA has worked to get people the coverage they need when working at sea.  There are still a lot of uncovered issues surrounding these matters and you will need to speak with a maritime law professional to get the most compensation for your injury.

What Limitations Does the Jones Act Have?

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law, Maritime on July 15, 2009 at 7:42 PM

While the Jones Act is great in its intentions it does not cover many issues that are surfacing around the world today with maritime law.  Since being put into federal law in 1920, the Jones Acts has undergone much scrutiny as times have changed and we see more people choosing a maritime life.

Initially, this act was designed to give rights to seamen who were serving their country and risking their lives to do so.  This was a law that was passed to protect seamen from shipmasters and other crew members.  While this is great in theory, we see it become outdated due to more people finding a maritime life outside of the military service.

This act was also designed for maritime people that would be out at sea for years.  This means they would never be stepping a foot on land.  This is the very essence of why this act was passed through Congress.  Life on land and life at sea are two completely different things.  People who are living at sea are susceptible to having many issues occur that endanger their lives.  Something needed to be done to make sure that, during these long ventures at sea; people were protected by the rule of law.

People had been asking for a reform for years and, during the 1980s, people were demanding the Supreme Court step in and clearly state who and what this act was covering.  Finally, in 1995, the Supreme Court made a ruling and modernized this – at the time – 75 year old bill.

The definition of a seaman had been reformatted to protect people who were also living on land as well as the sea.  The ruling, known as Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, stated that anyone who was contributing to the livelihood of a vessel would be protected under the Jones Act.  The other side of this coin covered any sea-person as long as they contain a connection with a vessel or group of vessels and maintains a substantial time of labor and duration.

This revise of the Jones Act still leaves a lot of unanswered questions and the only real way to know for sure is to seek consultation from a maritime lawyer.  So, you see, the drawbacks of the Jones Act are a product of the Supreme Court not making the necessary clarifications as to what means what in this ever changing world of maritime law.

Do Dockworkers Have Special Laws That Protect Them In the Event Of an Injury?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation, LHWCA on July 13, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Dockworkers and Longshoreman do, in fact, have a specific law which is targeted at protecting them financially in the event that they are injured while on the job. There are a number of laws like this that are profession specific. These laws usually relate to those jobs that are more dangerous or more likely to result in the injury of a worker in order to ensure that people still feel protected enough to fulfill those essential services. In the case of dockworkers and longshoremen, it is the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. Usually you will just see this listed as the LHWCA.

This act provides medical benefits as well as covering the cost of rehabilitation for any injury sustained by these workers by on the job. In fact, this act also provides benefits for diseases that they may contract from their work, or that may be made worse by the conditions in which they work. They also will receive compensation for lost wages so that they can continue to support themselves in a proper lifestyle; meeting a basic standard of living. When this law was originally created, it only covered workers who weren’t already covered by a workers’ compensation law in their state. However, it has now been changed to cover all workers who specifically fall under its guidelines.

It is important to understand who is covered under the LHWCA in order to realize who can receive these types of benefits and who would be required to file a more traditional workers’ compensation claim in the event of an injury while at work. Longshoreman, dock workers, harbor workers, anyone directly working on building or repairing ships, and ship breakers are all considered covered under this law. However, those who might work for a harbor in an office situation as an example, are not covered, and would have to file a different type of claim if injured on the job.

How Many Times Has the Jones Act Been Amended Since Its Creation?

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on July 11, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Since the inception of the Jones Act in 1920 there has been a need for this federal law to be clarified more specifically.  This act does set guidelines for maritime law; however, since the recent advancements in modern day life, there has been a need to reform this law time and time again.

After this bill was passed there was much controversy over how to define seamen and who would be protected by its statutes.  In 1927 Congress tried to clear this controversy up through the passage of the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).  This amendment still left dozens of unanswered questions.  However, it did work to realize sailors were no longer the primary loaders and un-loaders of ships and that dockworkers had taken over this responsibility.  Although this extension now excluded any crew members of vessels so there was still much to decide after this amendment.

This debate would always resurface and lawsuits would arise such as the South Chicago Coal & Dock Co. v. Bassett case which led to Congress passing the declaration of a seaman not being defined if their duties did not pertain to the ships navigation.  This amendment only left more confusion and was begging for another reform.

A court case in 1955, Gianfala v. Texas Co, saw the Supreme Court state the definition of a seaman would be determined by the jury.  The specification of a “seaman” came to include laborers on floating oil drilling platforms and dredges. There was still too much grey area in a very serious matter that was growing with each passing year and the result was an eruption of Jones Act litigation.  This also led to nearly 100,000 Jones Act lawsuits in a ten year period between 1975 and 1985.

In 1995 the Supreme Court would finally make a better conclusion as to the defining of a modern seaman.  But, after a long bout of people demanding a reform for the maritime law, this amendment was still was not enough.

There has been much debate over this matter and until the Supreme Court can clearly define what makes a sailor a sailor there will be controversy surrounding this maritime law.

Will I Be Covered by the Jones Act If I’m Working on a Moored Vessel?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on July 9, 2009 at 3:46 PM

The definition of what kinds of seagoing vessels are covered by the Jones Act has certainly been cause for confusion in the past. Court cases have continuously emerged over the course of the last several decades that have expanded and refined the definition of which workers are covered under the act and which are not. One example of the fine lines that the courts have drawn is moored vessels. If you happen to work on a moored vessel, you may find the following information very helpful if you are ever injured while performing the duties of your job.

The coverage of an employee working on such a vessel depends mostly on the degree to which the vessel is moored. As the definition has evolved, certain things such as floating oil platforms, which, while moored, are afloat and being worked on while at sea, have been determined to be covered under the Jones Act. So, if you’re working aboard a floating oil rig, a stationary barge, or other similar type of vessel, there is a good chance that you’re going to be able to receive benefits under the terms of the Jones Act in the event that you are injured while at work.

However, there are vessels which are not covered under this act. This includes those which have been permanently moored to the shore or the banks of any body of water. This includes structures like dry docks, wharves, and certain boat structures, which are no longer counted as vessels. This would also exclude any boats which are connected to the infrastructure systems of the city in which they are located, such as a boat which is receiving electricity, water, or telephone connections from the city they are docked in. So again, whether or not your vessel is moored is less important than the degree to which it is considered to actually be a vessel under the terms of the Jones Act, when determining whether or not you could receive Jones Act benefits if injured while at work.

Does the Jones Act Protect Oil Rig Workers?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on July 6, 2009 at 3:39 PM

oil rigOffshore oil rigs are another one of those murky areas of law when it comes to what regulations and statutes cover workers who are injured while working on one. In fact, it is possible to say that oil rigs are among the most complicated of these situations to analyze. This is because, depending on the type of rig on which one is working, there are different laws that might apply. Therefore, in order to figure out whether or not the Jones Act will protect you if you’re working on an oil rig, it is first important to understand the specifics of the type of rig that you are working on.

If you’re on a floating oil rig or jack up, then you might, in fact, be covered under the Jones Act because you could be considered an employee of a seagoing vessel. This is the specific type of worker that the Jones Act is designed to cover. It is important to have laws in place like this which do cover the rights and protect oil rig workers. Working on off shore drilling rigs has been shown to be among the most dangerous career paths a person can take, which is why the compensation for these workers is high and why there are specific laws in place to protect them.

If the Jones Act does not apply, such as for someone working on an offshore drilling rig which is permanently affixed to the ocean floor, there is another law beyond basic workers’ compensation laws which can protect the rights of the workers on that oil rig. This is the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, or LHWCA. This law covers most maritime workers who are working on or around the water, who for one reason or another aren’t already covered by the Jones Act.

What Are Considered Reasonable Requests Under the Jones Act?

In Jones Act Law, Maritime on July 4, 2009 at 7:40 PM

When you are employed as a seaman, you are protected in the event of an injury under federal law ruling and the Jones Act.  The right for a seaman that is injured during a period of employment is called “maintenance and cure”.  This basically defines medical benefits – known as cure – and living expenses – known as maintenance.

Being a seaman, the medical benefits you are entitled to cover hospitalization, physical therapy, doctors visits (or medical care), medication, and the facilitation of medical equipment.  If you are a seaman and are in need of any of these instances due to your employment as a seaman, your employer is required to cover these payments – end of story.

If unable to work as a result of an injury or work related health endangerment, a seaman is also entitled to payments for everyday living expenses which include:

– Grocery Bills

– Utility Bills

– Cosmetic and Toiletry Expenses

– Any Other Reasonable Expenses

The only reason any of this is possible is due, in part, to the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act of 1927.  This recognized that people were in need of a federal law to ensure seamen were protected in the same way as everyone else.  This was even more important because there are countless things that could go wrong while out at sea thus making employment at sea extremely dangerous even under the safest conditions.

Sadly, not every employer is going to adhere to the guidelines and practices of the Jones Act.  Due to there being so many uncovered issues with the maritime law, employers have the power to find loopholes in the act and the amendments.  When dealing with any maritime law, especially in affiliation with the Jones Act, you will always want to receive consultation and be represented by a maritime law professional.  An employer of seamen is required to support the legality of the Jones Act and, without proper representation; the employer could very well try to cheat you out of these compensations.

Am I Covered by the Jones Act as a Dockworker?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on July 2, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Understanding Maritime Law can be complicated at the best of times and, as there are many different types of laws which cover the injuries of those who work in and around the water, it can get extremely cloudy as to which laws cover which workers. Dockworkers are especially unclear as to which laws cover them. It is important to know which laws apply to you. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, but if you know what laws are in place to protect you, you can have a good idea of how best to proceed in the unfortunate event of any of these injuries taking place.

If a dock worker has heard about the Jones Act, they are often going to wonder if they are covered under this law. The Jones Act is a federal law which covers the workers and seamen who are employed by a seagoing vessel. The confusion could come from the fact that this law also applies to those employees even when they are not directly on the ship, such as when they are working on the dock. However, for people who are actually dockworkers, and not just seamen who happen to be working on the dock at the time of their injury, there is a separate law.

The law in place to protect dockworkers in the case of an injury is called the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act, commonly abbreviated as LHWCA. This law covers dock workers and enables them to make a claim in the event that they are injured or contract an illness as a result of their work, and also extends to employees of many off shore oil platforms (except for certain types of those which would instead be covered under the aforementioned Jones Act.) The LHWCA pays out benefits for a worker injured on the job in order to help to pay for his medical care and rehabilitation, as well as helping to make up for lost wages.