With its northern border formed by the Ohio River and the western by the Mississippi River, Kentucky offers many opportunities for work on barges, towboats and other types of ships. Docks and shipyards also offer employment prospects.
Though work on the water can be incredibly rewarding, it is also dangerous. When injured, a maritime employee is entitled to certain benefits.
Employees who work near the water
River workers who work near or on the water, but not on a boat, are protected by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA pays out workers’ compensation benefits, if a worker is injured. The main difference between the LHWCA and traditional workers’ compensation is the benefits are slightly better.
An injured longshoreman receives 66.66 percent of his or her pay from the LHWCA, while other workers’ comp benefits usually pay only about 60 percent. The LHWCA also provides coverage for workers that suffer from permanent partial disabilities.
Employees that work on ships
Employees that work on vessels are usually considered seamen. Seamen spend most of their time working on ships that are considered navigable. A navigable vessel can be out on the river or just in operation.
The Jones Act allows provides protection for injured maritime workers. Under the act, a seaman can sue an employer for damages related to negligence. To prove your case, you must show your employer committed negligence that caused your injury.
Maritime law also provides protection against unseaworthy vessels. An unseaworthy vessel is any ship that is unsafe or provides unsafe conditions to work in. For this case, an injured worker does not need to prove negligence. You must only show the vessel’s conditions were dangerous for the employee.
If your employer was not negligent in your injury, you can still pursue compensation. You can apply for maintenance and cure. Your employer must provide money to pay for your room and board, as well as your medical expenses until you get well.
Injured river workers have a variety of benefits available for their recovery. An experienced maritime attorney can explain the options and help ensure you get what you need to heal.