Admiralty and maritime laws are a set of laws that protect workers who are injured on the water. It is important for injured workers and their families to be familiar with legal protections available to them and how those protections apply when there has been a workplace accident or fatal workplace accident on the water.
The Jones Act is a federal law that protects injured seaman who are injured on the job. It can help them receive compensation for their injuries. To receive protections, the injured worker needs to demonstrate that the employer or operator of the vessel was negligent concerning their safety obligations or that the vessel was not seaworthy at the time of the accident. Injured maritime workers may be able to recover compensation for maintenance, cure, and unearned wages. Maintenance refers to onshore room and board while the injured worker is recovering. Cure refers to room and board while the injured worker receives medical treatment onshore. Unearned wages include wages the worker would have earned had they not been injured.
To qualify for the Jones Act, the injured worker must qualify as a seaman, which is a specific definition that workers who are injured on the waterways should be familiar with, and the injury or accident must occur on a navigable body of water. Injured maritime workers who do not meet the definition of seaman according to the Jones Act definition may be protected by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA protects those who work and are injured on docks, wharves, piers, or other areas where vessels are repaired and worked on.
Additional maritime law protections may be available to families of maritime workers who are injured while on the job. Maritime laws protect workers injured on the waterway and their families which is why they are important to be aware of and familiar with.