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The Coverage Limits Under Maritime Law and LHWCA


Any work-related injury or fatality that occurs on navigable waters is likely to fall under the coverage limits of maritime law, including the Jones Act and other federal laws.

These laws dictate who is eligible for coverage and the maritime benefits to which they are entitled. The laws also determine where an injury must occur in order to be eligible and the circumstances that nullify an injured party’s right to compensation.

Injured longshoremen and harbor workers – and other qualified workers – typically are subject to the coverage limits and rules of workers’ compensation laws that are specific to longshore and harbor workers. Many of these limits are outlined in the United States Code Title 33, chapter 18, section 903, otherwise known as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Deciphering these complicated legal statutes can be a challenge, particularly for an injured worker or family member who is busy tending to medical and other financial concerns. An attorney who is focused on maritime issues and Jones Act laws can provide assistance understanding the full scope of an injured employee’s rights.

Who is covered under maritime law?

Some of the workers who may be eligible for maritime benefits include:

  • Jones Act seamen;
  • maritime workers;
  • longshoremen;
  • harbor workers;
  • dock workers;
  • oil rig workers;
  • deckhands;
  • barge workers; and
  • tugboat workers.

There are many other types of workers that qualify for coverage, but note that federal laws bar workers’ compensation for government officers and employees who are disabled or killed while on the job.

Where does coverage extend?

Maritime coverage is available only when a worker is disabled or killed while “upon the navigable waters of the United States.” This includes not only water-going vessels, but also:

  • adjoining piers;
  • dry docks;
  • marine railways;
  • wharfs; and
  • most any other adjoining area used to load or unload or repair a vessel.

This coverage does not apply to off-premises facilities where small commercial vessels – a commercial barge that is under 900 lightship displacement tons or a commercial tugboat, towboat, crew boat, supply boat, fishing vessel, or other work vessel which is under 1,600 tons gross – are built or repaired.

What would cancel coverage?

Coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is nullified if the injured worker’s intoxication was the sole cause of the accident and injury or death. The same applies if it is determined that the injured worker had intentionally set out to cause injury or death to himself/herself or another person.

The maritime lawyers at The Young Firm have a thorough understanding of the intricacies of Jones Act law, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and other statutes that affect maritime benefit coverage limits. We handle only maritime cases and this focus has afforded us the opportunity to study and exercise workers’ rights to compensation after injury.



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