Does the Jones Act Apply to Dock Workers?
Legislators created the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, popularly referred to as the Jones Act, to control maritime commerce in American waters. It dictated that all ships transporting goods between United States ports must be American and manned by American crews. However, the Jones Act is most well-known today for providing American maritime workers with protections comparable to ones enjoyed by workers outside of the maritime industry. Since the Jones Act became law, injured offshore workers have been able to sue employers for negligence and win compensation for their present and future needs.
Today, some land-based maritime workers may not know if the Jones Act applies to them. For example, if a worker suffers injuries while working on a docked ship, does the Jones Act apply to them since the incident occurred on a seafaring vessel? The short answer is no; the long answer is dock workers have their own law that protects their right to compensation. Instead of the Jones Act, a separate law called the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides compensation for dock workers.
What Is the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is also known as the Longshore Act. Lawmakers created the Longshore Act in 1927 to provide compensation to workers injured on navigable waters. The Longshore Act enables employees to make a claim similar to a regular workers’ compensation claim. To file a claim under the act, a worker only needs to prove that they were injured while working. Notably, claims under the Longshore Act do not require proving negligence from either party.
Under the Longshore Act, workers can receive compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
How to Determine If You Qualify for the Jones Act or Longshore Act
If a worker needs to know if the Longshore Act or Jones Act applies to them, they only need to determine how much time they spend on a vessel in navigation. Workers who spend 30 percent or more of their time on ships in transit will qualify under the Jones Act, but any other worker will receive compensation under the Longshore Act.