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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
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

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:





© 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
Criminal Prosecution for Marine
by Tim Akpinar.
Workboat Magazine appears in the
links on the commercial marine
links page.
Click here to see article from
Maritime Advocate - Aug 9,
Bosphorus Reflections, by Tim

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