Alert / Risk Management
What is contingent or incidental Maritime Employers Liability coverage and do I need it?

The U.S. Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (the Act) is a federal law that provides a statutory scheme for the payment of compensation, medical care and vocational rehabilitation services to non-seaman maritime workers who work at ports, terminals, shipyards and the like and suffer on-the-job injuries or illness. Recovery under the Act is an exclusive, no-fault remedy for workers that fall within its scope with employers being protected against tort liability to employees.

From time-to-time, these “shoreside” employees may work aboard vessels that are owned or operated by their employers and, in doing so, may obtain status as a “Seaman” who is excluded from the Act and entitled to sue his or her employer in tort under the Jones Act and other maritime laws.

This is problematic as liability under the Act is normally financed by USL&H coverage while liability under the Jones Act is usually financed via either Maritime Employer’s Liability Insurance (MEL) or Protection & Indemnity (P&I) coverage. As a result, the insurance program of operators of shoreside marine facilities needs to anticipate and efficiently address claims alleging liability under the Jones Act or, assuming seaman status is not established, under the Act.

We have prepared this document to assist employers in understanding when and how they can recognize and address the risk of their USL&H workers alleging they are Jones Act seamen.

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