walking on dockThis is the next post in my series on the handling of injury cases involving seamen or longshore workers in Illinois. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to retain an attorney immediately after you have reported your injuries. It is important that you retain counsel as soon as possible as the handling of such matters are highly complicated and errors can lead to the denial of your claim. This article will explain the complexity of the system by explaining how the Jones Act and the LHWCA apply to injury cases. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office to speak with a maritime and longshore injury lawyer.

The Jones Act protects Illinois maritime workers who were injured on the job

Individuals who are injured at work must normally file a claim under the worker’s compensation system. Maritime workers are covered by a different set of laws known as the Jones Act. This act is considered much more friendly to the rights of an injured maritime employee than those found in the worker’s compensation system. In order for the Jones Act to apply to your situation you must be considered a “seaman.” Anyone will meet this definition, regardless of whether they are the lowest member of the crew or captain of the ship, if they spend at least thirty percent of their time working on a vessel. Someone who simply occasionally steps onto a ship as part of their duties will not be considered a seaman under the Jones Act.

Seamen who are injured on their ship will be entitled to “maintenance and cure” compensation. They will also have the right to bring a negligence claim against their employer. The former provides compensation for daily expenses and medical expenses after a worker has been injured. It is rare for a seamen to be denied a maintenance and cure award. An injured seamen will also have the right to sue their employer for negligence. This is different from the worker’s compensation system, in which employers cannot normally be sued. If an injured worker sues for negligence then they will only need to show that the employer had some part in the injury as opposed to having to show that the employer bears the bulk of the blame. This makes the system highly friendly to injured Illinois maritime workers.

The LHWCA protects Illinois longshore workers

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law which provides protection for injured longshore employees. This law protects many people who are not “seamen”; in other words, it protects those who spend significant time working around sea vessels but not necessarily on them. Examples of protected employees include longshore workers, those who build or repair ships, those who work construction jobs in harbors, etc. This act provides compensation for workplace injuries which includes lost pay, medical care, vocational retraining if necessary, etc. While the LHWCA does not allow employees to file negligence suits to be filed against their employers, as does the Jones Act, it does allow the filing of a case against the owner of the ship. If the owner and the employer are the same entity, then the employer may be sued in their capacity as the owner.

Illinois cases involving the Jones Act for the LHWCA involve unique issues that are not common to personal injury law or normal workers’ compensation matters. It is highly important that you retain an attorney to assist you in such a matter. I am a Peoria longshore & maritime injury lawyer who prides himself on providing the highest quality of service. My firm will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you.