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Understanding the Coverage Under Maritime Law

For employees who have been hurt on the job, filing for worker’s compensation makes sense. However, for employees whose jobs require them to work in or around navigable waters, worker’s comp might not be a viable option. That is due to the specific maritime laws, which dictate specific regulation and protection for these workers. It is important for seamen, crew workers, and anyone who works in a marine environment to understand exactly what these laws protect.


Employees injured on the job have wage protection under the general maritime law. Under the Jones Act, those harmed on the job due to the negligence of others are entitled to obtain compensation for earnings that the seaman would have made if he or she would have been able to keep working. In addition, the injured party might be entitled to compensation for future earnings. The workers compensation benefits that are protected under the Jones Act are typically known as maintenance and cure. A maritime attorney can help you navigate such a claim.


In the event the injury occurs on a vessel considered unseaworthy, the workers are entitled to compensation under current maritime laws. However, most may not realize that a vessel doesn’t have to be inoperable in order to be unseaworthy. For example, if there is a broken ladder, broken machine parts in the walkway, insufficient crew, untrained crew, or even missing safety equipment or defective products, the vessel is unseaworthy. Representation can help to determine if the unseaworthiness of the vessel was the cause.


Regardless of whether the injury is due to negligence by the worker or negligence of a third party, all seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure. This protection allows for coverage of medical care while the worker is injured and a daily living allowance. In order for these benefits to end, a clean bill of health from the attending physician is necessary.

It is important for those who work on docks, as crewmembers for vessels, or anyone else working around the waterways to understand their protection under the maritime law. The right attorney can help those injured while on the job obtain compensation for their injuries.

Thanks to Commander U.S. Naval Forces on flickr for the image used in this post.