California, the nation’s most populous state and third-largest state by area, supports a vast maritime industry. The Los Angeles and Long Beach mega ports in sunny Southern California, and the Oakland mega-port in Northern California, are regularly among the nation’s top ten. Eight other public ports, several in Southern California not far from The Work Injury Advocate’s Tarzana area, add to the maritime industry’s enormous influence on national and world commerce.
A maritime industry of such tremendous size depends on a vast workforce. Workers from the Tarzana area and throughout Southern California work not only as seamen and on offshore rigs but also as longshoremen loading and unloading freight, harbor workers, and shipbuilders.
Maritime workers, though, perform some of the hardest and most hazardous work around. The ocean-fishing industry is well known as the most dangerous of all occupations. But injuries to other maritime workers are also common. The injuries aren’t just falling overboard. They can include:
- amputation or other trauma from equipment;
- rope and cable injuries;
- injuries from dropped cargo;
- slip or trip and fall injuries;
- falls from ladders or other heights;
- injuries from exposure to the elements;
- lifting, stooping, and bending injuries;
- repetitive-motion injuries;
- fume or chemical inhalation; and
- chemical or other toxic-agent burns.
For many workers who suffer an injury on the job, maritime-injury laws differ from the worker’s compensation laws of other workplace injuries. When a seaman, harbor worker, or shipbuilder suffers an on-the-job injury, the chances are good that either the federal Jones Act or federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act will instead apply. These federal laws bar state workers’ compensation claims for the maritime employees the federal laws cover–although not for other maritime workers whose work falls outside of these federal laws.
The federal Jones Act guarantees an injured seaman only maintenance and cure, not the broad state worker’s compensation benefits. Maintenance and cure mean wages until the seaman returns to shore and room and board ashore until the seaman reaches maximum medical cure. But federal law defines a seaman very precisely, depending on the percentage of work spent at sea. If the injured employee is not a seaman under the Jones Act’s technical definition, then the injured employee may well have state-law worker’s compensation rights and claims.
The federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act treats qualifying harbor workers and shipbuilders more generously with medical-care benefits and work-loss benefits no matter whether the worker, the employer, or neither were at fault. Unlike the usual worker’s comp laws for non-maritime workers, which bar negligence claims against the employer and co-workers, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act permits the injured harbor worker or shipbuilder to maintain a negligence claim against an at-fault vessel owner. Ordinary negligence claims remain available to these injured employees.
Retain Skilled Maritime Advocates
Enforcing the workplace-injury rights of a maritime worker who does not qualify under the federal maritime laws, or who has a negligence claim to pursue outside of those federal laws, takes a skilled and experienced lawyer from Tarzana’s The Work Injury Advocate serving Southern California. Our lawyers are experts at determining when a client qualifies for a state worker’s compensation recovery or has a valuable negligence claim outside of federal or state workers’ compensation laws.
Our goal at The Work Injury Advocate is to ensure that you recover as best you can from any workplace injury. We fight throughout Southern California’s Tarzana and surrounding areas for those who suffer maritime workplace injuries. Contact us online or call (323) 364-2409 for your free initial analysis. The Work Injury Advocate, associated with Accident Defenders, offers its legal services on a contingency fee. You pay nothing unless we recover for you. Call now for a free analysis of your maritime claim.