Is Your Employer Trying to Categorize Your Jones Act Claim as a LHWCA Claim?

A frequent trick that I see as a maritime lawyer involves an employer trying to classify a possible Jones Act claim as one under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. This happens far more often than people realize, and because many seamen are not aware of their status under the Jones Act, employers can be, and often are, very successful. There's one big reason why employers may try to classify Jones Act seamen as longshoremen or other workers who qualify under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act instead, and it has to do with money. Workers who do not qualify as Jones Act seamen, but qualify under the LHWCA, may only be eligible for monetary benefits as specified under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. Further, these workers may not have the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. The Jones Act offers seamen the right to file a negligence lawsuit against their employer. Further, the Jones Act also provides for more substantial financial recovery than the LHWCA. This is why determining a worker's maritime status is so important to your injury claim. It's also why you shouldn't go only by what your employer tells you as far as your maritime status is concerned. Remember that your employer has much to lose by classifying you as a Jones Act seaman, and much to gain if you're classified under the LHWCA.

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