Posted on: 19 October 2016Share
If you are about to finish hiring paperwork for a new job on the docks or on a ship, be sure your job classification clearly states whether you are considered a seaman or not. The fact that you might be working on a ship or going out to sea does not automatically make you a seaman; you have to officially be part of a crew for that. The importance of your classification is due to worker's compensation laws. If you are classified as a seaman, you have a special set of laws to follow instead of filing for conventional worker's compensation.
Different Compensation Laws
Non-crew, non-seaman workers can file for worker's compensation if they are injured due to work activity or injured on the job. They are covered by a federal act called the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. This act is different from garden-variety state compensation laws, and in fact it may provide better benefits than you might get filing under state law.
Seamen, however, are covered by something called the Jones Act, and they are able to receive compensation under three different situations. One is the Jones Act itself. The second occurs when the workers sue the owner or management of the boat they were on if they think the vessel was not seaworthy, and if that lack of seaworthiness contributed to their injuries. The third situation is maintenance and cure, which is basically reimbursement for lost wages, living costs, medical expenses, and so on.
Avoid Delays in Compensation Case
Knowing exactly how you're classified is important for two reasons. One, the obvious one, is so that you know which acts cover you in case you are injured. The second is that, if there is any confusion about your classification, it can result in delays in getting your compensation. If the courts don't know what you're eligible to file under, then you're not going to be able to successfully file until the issue is resolved, and that might not be the fastest process.
Legally You Should Know
If everything is done properly, you should know your exact classification by now. But if you haven't found out, or if your questions have been brushed off, demand to know. It's too easy for a shady company to hire people and not give them the right information if the people being hired are very eager to get to work.
For more information, talk to worker's compensation attorneys, like those from Hardee and Hardee LLP, in your area. They can help you get your job classified properly, and if you're injured later on, they can help you with your case.