The Legal Differences Between Maritime Claims and Workers Comp Claims

If you incurred an injury on a maritime job, you may be entitled to workers comp. You are entitled to benefits under the Jones Act, and will still be able to support your family as you recover from your injury. If this feels like a complicated situation, consult with a maritime attorney to help you navigate the complexities of seamen injuries. There are some key differences between maritime injuries and workers comp injuries that you should be aware of before you file a claim for the settlement you deserve.

Slip or Swim: Differences Between Maritime Injury and Workers’ Comp Injury

The key difference between maritime injury and workers’ comp injury comes to requirements. A simple slip and fall with a workers’ compensation claim will be much different from a maritime law claim. Much of this centers around the type of work under maritime law, where workers are labeled as seamen and as such are exposed to different dangers on the job.

Because of that, seamen will be making workers’ comp claims under the federal Jones Act and the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

A maritime worker can collect workers’ compensation, but it is legislated under multiple other rules due to the nature of their work.

What Makes a Seaman a Seaman?

A seaman is classified under the Jones Act under the following conditions:

  • Their work must be connected to a vessel or fleet
  • They must be employed on a vessel that functions in navigable waters
  • Their work must contribute to the overall functioning of a vessel

You don’t necessarily need to be a captain or crew member to be a seaman. You can work on a number of operational vehicles or vessels to be a seaman. If you are wondering about settlements under maritime law, you likely qualify as a seaman.

Most Common Maritime Injuries

Maritime injuries are different from most workers’ compensation injuries by nature of the location of the work. There are few jobs under workers’ compensation industries where an employee can drown just for having the job.

Even so, a slip and fall is a slip and fall, and this injury is very common on a vessel. At the same time, a maritime injury qualifies for a claim when the injury is a direct result of the working environment and conditions.

These are the most common workplace injuries under maritime law:

  • Overboard falls
  • Burns
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Fire
  • Repetitive use injury

This is just a starting list of maritime injuries. If your accident or injury is not shown here, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation.

Seaman Claims and Damages Under Maritime Law

When it comes to seeking workers’ compensation, seamen are entitled to a little more than the average worker. You are entitled to the same standard claims, plus maintenance and cure. These are the damages you would seek when seeking compensation for illness or injury while at work:

  • Medical costs, present, and future
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Maintenance and cure

Maintenance and cure is a stipulation provided for under the Jones Act and is specifically for seamen.

Maintenance compensation provides room and board for the injured seaman as they recover. It could include everything from rent and mortgage to taxes, but not to household expenses such as cable or Internet.

Cure compensation refers to reasonable medical expenses, including transportation costs to receive treatment. Maintenance and cure are paid until there is a medical improvement as determined by a doctor. It is paid for by the employer. When you think you are not getting everything you are entitled to, speak to a maritime law attorney for help.


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