Working on a vessel can be an exhausting job with high risks of injury. The Jones Act was created to protect the rights of injured sailors to receive compensation, somewhat akin to workers’ compensation benefits received by land-based workers. What happens when a sailor gets injured on land while doing job-related duties? Learn how you may still be eligible for benefits after being hurt on land.

Do I Need to Be On Board of a Vessel to Qualify for Jones Act Coverage?

In order to qualify for coverage under the Jones Act, you need to be employed by a vessel and spend at least 30% of your work hours aboard the vessel in navigation. The vessel does not need to be in motion but must be able to be set in motion with its own power, be fully operational, and be in navigable waters. In addition, the vessel must be built in the U.S, and be at least 75% owned by U.S-based individuals or corporations, with a crew made up of at least 75% American citizens.

If you meet the above criteria, you may be covered under the Jones Act, even if your injury occurred on land. It is understood that a sailor engaging in work activities that contribute to the operation of the vessel may also be covered while working at a dock (for example, helping with loading or unloading cargo or supplies), as long as you can be considered to be in the course of employment.

What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers land-based maritime employees, such as dock workers, shipyard workers, and repairmen, to name a few. The Jones Act covers workers employed by a seaworthy vessel. If you are employed in a position that requires you to shift from the dock to a vessel on a regular basis, you can only receive compensation for injuries from one of these acts, because they are mutually exclusive. If you are covered by the LHWCA, you may receive benefits comparable to workers’ compensation and will likely not be allowed to sue your employer for injuries.

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for Benefits?

If you have been hurt on land in the course of employment aboard a vessel, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of a maritime law attorney, so you can determine if you are covered under the Jones Act or the LHWCA or if you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and basic living expenses. Consult the maritime law attorneys at Gideon Asen at (207) 206-8982 or tgrose@gideonasen.com to learn your options.