It’s a raw morning, the kind that chills your bones and makes your breath visible in the still morning air. The docks are bustling with activity, the metallic clang of machinery and the shout of the foreman echoing off the water. Longshoremen, the backbone of America’s maritime industry, are hard at work, loading and unloading cargo from the ships that keep our country connected to the rest of the world. But what are their rights? What protections do they have under the law?

This ain’t no walk in the park, it’s hard labor. But these workers have rights, you know? Important ones too! And that, my friends, is what we’ll be diving into. So, let’s cut to the chase and get into the nitty-gritty of longshoreman rights.

Longshoreman: The Rugged Life

But before we dive headfirst into the world of longshoreman rights, let’s take a second to appreciate the work they do, shall we?

Longshoremen, also known as dockers or dockworkers, are responsible for loading and unloading cargo from ships. This work is physically demanding and can be dangerous due to the heavy machinery and large cargo involved.

Random fact alert! Did you know that the word “longshoreman” originated from “man-along-the-shore”, as dockworkers would often be hired from the shoreside crowd on a day-to-day basis? The more you know, right?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

First and foremost, longshoremen are protected by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Established in 1927, this federal law provides compensation and medical care to employees injured while working on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas used in loading, unloading, repairing, or building certain types of vessels.

Key Provisions of the LHWCA

Under the LHWCA, injured longshoremen have the right to:

  • Receive compensation for temporary or permanent disability. This includes payment for lost wages and medical expenses.

  • Choose their own doctor for treatment.

  • Receive vocational rehabilitation services if they’re unable to return to their previous line of work due to their injury.

  • Appeal decisions made by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).

Additional Protections Under the Jones Act

In addition to the LHWCA, longshoremen may also be protected under the Jones Act. This federal statute, which is officially known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, provides protections to seamen who are injured on the job.

It’s important to note that only “seamen” are covered by the Jones Act. A seaman is defined as a worker who spends a significant amount of their time working on a vessel in navigation.

Random fact alert! The Jones Act was named after Senator Wesley L. Jones, who introduced the legislation.

Key Provisions of the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured seamen have the right to:

  • Sue their employer for negligence. This includes unsafe work conditions or the negligence of a co-worker.

  • Receive maintenance and cure. Maintenance refers to daily living expenses, while cure refers to medical expenses.

  • Sue their employer for unseaworthiness. This means that the vessel they were working on was not fit for its intended purpose.

  • Choose their own doctor for treatment.

When to Contact a Lawyer

If you’re a longshoreman who’s been injured on the job, it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of filing a claim under the LHWCA or the Jones Act, and ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.

Remember, you have rights! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Adley Law Firm is here to help. With years of experience in maritime law, we’re well-equipped to handle your case. Give us a call at (713) 999-8669. We’re ready to fight for you!


In the grand tapestry of American industry, longshoremen are the threads that hold everything together. Without them, our country’s economy would come to a screeching halt. So it’s only right that they have protections under the law.

So there you have it, a deep dive into the world of longshoreman rights. It’s a complex topic, but one that’s vitally important for those who work in this challenging field. Always remember, your rights are important. Know them, understand them, and don’t be afraid to fight for them.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a quote that’s always stuck with me: “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” – John F. Kennedy

Stay safe out there, friends.

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