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Can I Seek Disability Benefits?

In regards to disability benefits, the best answer is "It depends." Under the Jones Act, if you suffered an injury or illness that was the result of negligence or unseaworthiness, you could have a claim. The negligence could be on the part of the ship owner, employer, manager, or co-worker. Unseaworthiness refers to a lack of safety equipment, lack of training, an inadequate amount of crew members, and general unsafe conditions.

However, some occupational illnesses and injuries are not the direct result of either of these. Sometimes the repetitive nature of a job can lead to back injuries, arthritis, spinal injuries, etc. If this is your case, your best option could be to file under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. This act does not require you to prove negligence or unseaworthiness, but is instead based on the employment relationship.

It offers disability benefits including the following:

  • Medical
  • Permanent Total Disability
  • Temporary Total Disability
  • Permanent Partial Disability
  • Temporary Partial Disability
  • Non-Scheduled Permanent Partial Disability
  • Rehabilitation
  • Death Benefits

The act covers maritime employees who work offshore or in harbors. However, if they are covered under a state's workers' comp law, they will not be able to claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Comp Act. Disabled employees who claim under the LHWCA will be given about 66% of their average weekly wage while they are unable to work. There are also some instances of permanent disabilities being covered. If the injury led to the death of the employee, the surviving spouse will be given 50% of their income. If there were dependent children, this will increase by about 16%. If the payments were delayed by over 14 days, an additional 10% will be added to the amount due. To see if you qualify for help, talk to an offshore injury lawyer for legal counsel.

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