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Longshoreman Claims

Whether a person is entitled to state Workers' Compensation benefits, Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act benefits, or has Jones Act Seaman status, is determined on a case‑by‑case basis.  If a person is employed as a longshoreman, either loading or unloading vessels, he will be considered a longshoreman and is entitled to Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act benefits.  This is similar to state Workers' Compensation benefits but is usually more generous in the amount of the benefits.  Other types of workers that would typically be entitled to Longshore benefits are workers that make repairs to vessels, workers that work on work platforms over the water, workers that build docks and piers, and workers that are on vessels less than 30 percent of the time.  These workers will be entitled to lost wages and medical benefits pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act.  However, if a third party injures a longshoreman, the longshoreman can file suit against the third party under the 905(b) section of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.  Typically, this will be the case when a longshoreman is aboard a vessel and  the vessel owners and/or operators are negligent in causing the longshoreman's injuries. This is easier to prove than you might think.  Examples of this are:

  • A longshoreman is loading or unloading cargo from a ship and a crane or some other ship's equipment fails and causes injury to a longshoreman;
  • The longshoreman slips and falls down on a vessel when he is not warned of the potential hazards that are not open and obvious;
  • The vessel owner turns over the vessel to the longshoreman to either load cargo or unload cargo and does not inform the longshoreman of a dangerous condition that exists onboard the vessel that is not open and obvious; and
  • The crew of the vessel sees the Longshoreman doing something that is dangerous and does not intervene and stop a dangerous activity.

If it is determined that a longshoreman does have a 905(b) case against a third party such as a vessel, the longshoreman can be entitled to past and future lost wages, past and future medical benefits, past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of the capacity for enjoyment of life damages. The total amount these damages can be substantial.