Differences Between the LHWCA and the Jones Act

Posted by Christopher “Chris” Schwartz | Sep 03, 2018 | 0 Comments


There are two acts in the U.S. Constitution that protect the rights of Americans who work at sea if they are ever injured at work. These are the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act (LHWCA) and the Jones Act. Many maritime workers do not know one from the other, but it's important they do. Keep reading to learn the differences between the LHWCA and the Jones Act.

What are the LHWCA and The Jones Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Act is an act to provide compensation for workers who get an injury or disease while working within passable waters in the United States and adjoining areas. Like the LHWCA, the Jones Act also protects the rights of injured seamen. It allows him or her to file a lawsuit against employers whose negligence caused the injury.


Basically, these two acts differ in terms of coverage. The Jones Act applies to seamen, which means that their employers are ship owners. Contrary to The Jones Act, the LHWCA does not apply to all maritime employees. The LHWCA excludes seamen and any government employees. This applies to employees working at U.S. Maritime seas, among which include:

  • Employees at overseas military bases of the United States
  • Employees of government contractors working abroad in public, defense and military projects
  • Employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States in exploring and developing natural resources
  • Civilian employees working on military bases


There are certain criteria one must meet before he or she can take advantage of the benefits of these laws. Because of differences on the beneficiaries of either law, the LHWCA and the Jones Act have no overlap in coverage. Listed below are the inclusion criteria for the LHWCA:

  1. The employee must be working in traditional maritime occupations which include shipbuilders, ship breakers, ship repairers, longshore workers and harbor construction workers.
  2. The injury must take place within the U.S. waters or in adjoining areas, including wharves, piers, terminals and docks. and those areas used in loading and unloading vessels.
  3. Non-maritime employees may also be covered if they fulfill the condition listed above.

LHWCA also explicitly states that the following are excluded as beneficiaries:

  1. Seamen of any position, including crew members of any vessel.
  2. Public employees of the United States government or any other foreign government.
  3. Employees whose injuries were due to intoxication or willful intention to cause harm.

On the other hand, the Jones Act applies to those who fulfill the following conditions:

  1. One must be a seaman.
  2. The employer qualifies as a “shipowner” as defined in the Jones Act.
  3. The career experience should be spent roughly one-third as a seaman.
  4. In case of injury, the seaman must prove that the employer was negligent or at fault regarding an injury suffered in the capacity of employment.

Cost and Compensation

For the LHWCA, compensation may come from a commercial insurance carrier (if purchased by the employer), or be self-compensated by the employer. These are subject to maximum and minimum rates which depend on the national average weekly wage (NAWW). Employees are also entitled to other medical treatment and rehabilitation if it is needed.

Compensation from the Jones Act may be received in the form of damages if the shipowner, captain, or fellow crew member is proven to be at fault. The compensation does not only include wages, and medical benefits, but also compensation for physical and mental damage brought about by negligence.

Louisiana Maritime Worker Attorneys

Maritime workers in Louisiana will need legal advice if injured at sea in order to protect their claims, especially if they need workers' compensation. If you or someone you love has been recently involved in a maritime-related injury, it's best to get experienced maritime law experts to assist you. The Schwartz Law Firm has offices in Baton Rouge and Metairie, and we want nothing more than to serve our hardworking maritime and dock workers. Feel free to call us at 504-837-2263for your initial consultation today.

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Schwartz Law Firm LLC attorneys bring over 25 years of combined experience securing personal injury recoveries and workers’ compensation successes in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.