The Jones Act

Maritime Law Overview


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How Does the Jones Act Complement the LHWCA?

The Jones Act and the LHWCA complement one another. While the Jones Act allows seamen to recover for negligence against their employers, the LHWCA allows maritime workers other than seamen to recover for negligence, but only against parties other than their employers. While the Jones Act does not define "seaman," its definition begins where the definition of the term "employee" in the LHWCA ends.

The LHWCA provides benefits to maritime workers who are not covered by either traditional workers' compensation law or the Jones Act. Most workers eligible for LHWCA benefits work on navigable waters or areas adjoining navigable waters, including docks, piers, terminals, stationary platforms and oil rigs, and dry dock facilities.

The Jones Act applies only to seamen, which are persons with an employment-related connection to a vessel in navigation and who contribute to the vessel's function or mission; that is, persons who do the ship's work. A person whose work is covered under the LHWCA may be treated as a Jones Act seaman in some cases. The LHWCA provides workers' compensation benefits for maritime workers who are not seamen. Injuries not covered under the Jones Act, may be covered under general negligence law or LHWCA.

The Jones Act only covers seamen, and state workers' compensation schemes do not cover workers on navigable waters. The LHWCA fills this gap by providing benefits for maritime workers who are not seamen, but who are injured on navigable waters or adjoining areas in the United States. "Adjoining areas" include all areas that are used in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel, including docks, piers, terminals, and dry dock facilities.

Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)

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Defense Base Act
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