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What is the Difference Between the Jones Act and Longshore Claims?

When you work on the water and around ships, yards, and docks, you probably do not spend much time thinking about the difference between these laws. However, if you suffer workplace injury, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) OR the Jones Act will be at the forefront of your legal remedies. Both statutes are akin to a type of federal workers’ compensation program, but they apply to very different employment situations. As with many legal claims, the details matter – particularly the definitions and rules on eligibility. 

If you were hurt while working on or around boats or water, it is likely that you can file a claim under one of these laws. You can trust a Miami workplace injuries attorney to address the specifics on Longshore versus Jones Act claims, but reviewing the basics is helpful.

Key Definitions

The main distinction between the two laws comes down to job titles and the nature of employment. Specifically:

Jones Act = Seamen: The focus of the law is workers who are permanently assigned to work as a crew member on a vessel; the boat must be positioned on navigable waterways, which basically means any body of water deep enough to allow passage by watercraft. Employees must spend at least 30% of their time performing work tasks on:

  • Ships;
  • Oil rigs;
  • Tenders and ferries;
  • Barges;
  • Container vessels; and,
  • Many other types of watercraft.

The Jones Act provides a negligence-based legal remedy for qualifying workers, so you must prove that your employer was at fault in causing your workplace injuries.

Longshore Act = Maritime Workers: Employees who perform job-related tasks around docks, terminals, piers, harbors, wharves, and drydock facilities may qualify to file a longshore claim. Examples include:

  • Shipbuilders;
  • Employees who work on vessel maintenance and repairs;
  • Marina and harbor construction workers;
  • Longshoremen;
  • Workers loading and unloading cargo; and,
  • Many other employees who are not stationed on a ship but work on and near watercraft.

The system created by the Longshore Act is closer to what you know about workers’ compensation, as you do NOT need to prove that your employer was negligent.

Compensation for Workplace Injuries 

Another important distinction between the two laws is what an eligible employee can recover after being injured. If you qualify under the Longshore Act, you can obtain benefits for your medical care, a portion of your lost wages, and amounts for disability. Jones Act compensation may include:

  • Maintenance and cure, which refers to costs of medical treatment and expenses;
  • Lost wages; and,
  • Pain and suffering.

Our Miami Workplace Injuries Lawyers Will Handle the Details

This overview comparing the Longshore Act and Jones Act is useful for understanding the basic concepts, but the specific legal issues can be complex. It is wise to retain legal representation for assistance, and our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA is ready to assist. Please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL today. You can call (305) 371-6000 or visit us online to set up a free consultation with a skilled workplace injuries attorney.

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