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Maritime employers have an insurance problem. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish liability exposure under the Jones Act and general maritime law from workers’ compensation exposure under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

The two acts are mutually exclusive by design, but in practice they often seem to overlap.

Vessel owners and maritime employers must be certain they have properly identified their exposures and insured their obligations to injured employees, but this is often difficult because of the uncertainty involved when dealing with many types of workers. So how can employers protect themselves?

Two laws

Vessel owners must insure their liability for the illness, injury or death of crewmembers under the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. 31004) and the general maritime law (the judicially created remedies of maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness and wrongful death available to seamen). Maritime employers must provide workers’ compensation insurance under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. 901, et seq.) for employees who work on or around vessels but who are not crewmembers.

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