Those who work on a vessel or on a dock here in Louisiana are probably already aware of the fact that if they suffer a work-related injury, they may not qualify to file a workers' compensation claim under the state's system. Instead, they may fall under either the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act or the Jones Act. Determining how to pursue compensation for on-the-job injuries -- whether through the LHWCA, Jones Act or state system -- can be problematic.
It could depend on how long an individual is on a vessel or his or her job duties, for example. Crew members and captains would probably file claims under the Jones Act. Dockworkers would probably fall under the LHWCA. Secretaries, data processors and security personnel would file workers' compensation claims.
The LHWCA was amended to include the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which covers workers engaged in the development of and exploration for natural resources on the outer continental shelf. This would include personnel conducting operations on offshore oil rigs. Another amendment, the Defense Base Act, covers certain civilian employees working for the U.S. Armed Forces outside the country, among others.
Knowing which law applies to a particular injured worker is crucial in pursuing benefits. In order to determine whether a particular individual falls under the Jones Act, the LHWCA or the Louisiana workers' compensation system, it may be necessary to review the parameters of an individual's employment. In fact, it may be a good idea to make this determination well before an injury occurs in order to avoid any unnecessary delays in receiving the financial assistance needed in order to cover medical costs, lost wages and more after an injury.