Back to Maritime Law
Back to Commercial Vessels
Seamen are not the only marine employees where an injury is covered by statute. The
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers employees injured in
the course of maritime employment on navigable waters who are not seamen. Navigable
waters include docks, piers, bulkheads, drydocks, or similar structures. Traditional
maritime employment includes shipbuilding, shipbreaking, bunkering, cargo loading,
dockbuilding, inland commercial diving, etc. Coverage would be disqualified if the
employee was a regular member of the vessel crew (thus making them a seaman), if the
sole cause of injury was the employee’s intoxication, or the sole cause of injuries resulted
from the employee’s deliberate attempt to injure themselves or other person. Employees
who could qualify for benefits under the LHWCA include shipyard welders, mechanics,
stevedores, or harbor pilots. Hardhat, salvage, oil rig, oil field and other commercial divers
not covered under the Jones Act may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor
Workers Compensation Act. In a diving injury, major factors in determining the
applicability of either law will be the relationship to a vessel and time spent offshore. The
commercial diver could also have certain legal rights and causes of action against a
vessel operator, owner, power plant, chemical plant, construction company - contractor
or other entity in a third party lawsuit if those parties were negligent, guilty, or at fault in
any way. Certain legal tests would determine whether a commercial diving accident was
covered under the LHWCA or Jones Act. But again, whether a commercial diver is
determined to be a Jones Act seaman or not, some of the independent causes of action
against third parties can include failure to carry out a cut-out (or hold-off) to shut off the
flow of a high pressure underwater outlet in the area where a diver is working...or
engaging the propeller on a vessel where a diver is working...not ensuring the safety of an
underwater demolition site...a manufacturer providing a defective apparatus or
equipment...the same principal applies in all these lawsuits, which gives rise to a cause of
action for negligence, product liability or strict liability.

While the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act is essentially a workers’
compensation system, there are elements that can give rise to a third party action, i.e.
against someone other than the employer. An action can be brought against the vessel if
there was negligence on the part of the vessel, or against a manufacturer of a product if it
could be shown that the product was defective. A defective product is one that does not
perform its function safely as would ordinarily be expected, or that could have been made
safer in an economical manner. Products are legally “defective” if they are defectively
manufactured, defectively designed, or lack adequate warnings as to their risks. See
Commercial Mariners & Fishermen - Product Liability, towards the bottom of the page.
This explains more about how liability can arise for compensation against a third party.
Wrongful death can also be basis of a claim, if an employee is killed on the job or as a
result of an injury that occurred on the course of employment.

For employees stationed overseas on military bases, which is a commonplace situation
for civilians today with training and experience needed by the armed forces, another law
is designed to provide compensation in the event of injury, disability or death. It is called
the Defense Base Act. Read the text of the law by clicking
Defense Base Act . This law has
moved into greater prominence with the large numbers of personnel deployed in the
regions of Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Another law that has applied to personnel
exposed to war hazards is the War Hazards Compensation Act. It covers employees of
contractors and subcontractors who are exposed to war hazards, whether the work is
maritime or not in nature. Click
War Hazards Compensation Act to read the text of the law.

If you are a shore side marine employee or docking pilot, harbor pilot, welder, shipbreaker,
shipyard worker, longshoreman, stevedore, cargo handling employee, marine terminal
employee, or stationed at an army, air force, marine corps or naval base and you were
injured in a combat area and would like to learn more about your rights, call for a free and
confidential consultation. If I'm able to handle your injury case, there is no fee unless I'm
successful.



Tim Akpinar Contact Information:

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© February 2005 by Tim Akpinar - All Rights Reserved
The contents of this website may not be copied or transmitted without the prior written
consent of Tim Akpinar
Click here to see article from
the Nov. '05 issue of
WorkBoat
Criminal Prosecution for Marine
Pollution,
by Tim Akpinar.
Workboat Magazine appears in the
links on the commercial marine
links page.
Click here to see article from
The
Maritime Advocate - Aug 9,
2005
Bosphorus Reflections, by Tim
Akpinar

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www.mycounsel.us                      
Liability & Compensation - Longshoremen, Commercial Divers, Pilots
Injured on a Marine Job - Maritime Injury Legal Issues - Harborworkers - Shipyard - Defense Base Act, War Hazards Act