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If you’re considering entering the maritime industry, you may be curious about the differences between a seaman and a maritime employee. 

While used somewhat interchangeably, there are some considerable differences between the two. Understanding these differences is essential to determining eligibility for certain protections under maritime law. 

If you fall under either category and are injured at work, it’s important to get legal representation from a dedicated maritime injury lawyer like our team at The Maritime Injury Law Firm to ensure you’re compensated fairly.

Maritime Law Nationwide

Maritime law is also occasionally known as admiralty law and is a specific branch of law governing matters that occur at sea. 

This includes the rights and responsibilities of both seamen and maritime employees. 

The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) are two of the most important pieces of legislation for workers in the maritime industry. 

Each one has particular protections for seamen and maritime workers, so it’s important to know the difference between the two, and which laws may apply to you if you’ve been injured or have some other dispute covered by The Jones Act or the LHWCA.

What are Seamen in the Maritime Industry?

A seaman is a designation used in maritime law to indicate an individual who is employed on a vessel operating in navigable waters.

To fully qualify as a seaman, a worker must:

  • Be assigned to a specific vessel or fleet of vessels;
  • Perform a significant portion of their work on the vessel, often at least 30%;
  • And must contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its stated mission.

Examples of seamen include captains, mates, engineers, deckhands, and crew members of fishing vessels. 

Seamen are covered by The Jones Act, which is federal legislation that protects those at sea by reserving certain rights and protections for them.

What are Maritime Employees?

A maritime employee is any worker engaged in maritime-related activities, who does not qualify as a seaman. 

Employees that fall into this category typically include those on docks, piers, shipyards, and other shore-based activities or industries. Some of the most common examples of maritime employees are longshoremen, harbor workers, and anyone involved in shipbuilding or repair. 

Maritime employees are not covered by The Jones Act, but they are covered by the LHWCA, which allows for workers’ compensation and other benefits.

Key Differences Between Seamen and Maritime Employees

Here are the 3 biggest differences between seamen and maritime employees:

  • Work Environment: One of the biggest differences is that seamen work on a specific vessel, while maritime employees work onshore or at the dock, in support of maritime operations but are directly part of a vessel’s crew.
  • Governing Laws: The Jones Act covers seamen, and helps provide remedies for employer negligence and unseaworthiness. The LHWCA applies to maritime employees and offers measures like workers’ compensation, as well as other protections.
  • Remedies Available: Seamen are permitted to sue their employers for negligence, while maritime employees are covered by a no-fault workers’ compensation plan. Additionally, seamen can get maintenance and cure benefits, which are designed to cover the costs related to their recovery and living expenses

How The Maritime Injury Law Firm Can Help

At The Maritime Injury Law Firm, our experienced maritime attorneys are familiar with the complexities and nuances of maritime law and can help ensure that your rights as either seaman or maritime employee are fully protected.

We’ll make sure you have personalized legal representation through every step of the process so that you can focus on recovering, and securing the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.

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