Can the Jones Act Cover Dockside Workers' Injuries?
The Jones Act can provide remedy if you had a "substantial connection" to the ship you were working on. In other words, you need to have spent a significant amount of time on the vessel and contributed to the functioning of the vessel. Typically, if you spent at least 30% of your working time on the vessel, then you qualify and are entitled to Jones Act rights.
If your duties primarily were carried out on land, and you were on the ship only briefly during the course of your work, the Jones Act likely won't provide relief. However, dockworkers, ship repairers, shipbuilders, and harbor construction workers may have other legal options available to them, such as the remedies offered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA).
This act provides protection for employment related injuries of sea workers or workers of "adjoining areas." Those covered under LHWCA are employees who work on navigable waters of the United States but also those who work in adjoining areas. These adjoining areas include loading, unloading, repairing, and building of said vessels. There is also provision for families under this act if an adjoining worker is killed on the job. Those employees covered under the act receive a compensation rate of 66 2/3% of their average weekly wages.
Although as a dockside worker you would not be covered under the Jones Act, unless of course you spent at least 30% of your time on the vessel, there is still provision for compensation after a work-related injury. If there is still doubt as to whether you are covered under some time of maritime law, it is best to consult either your employer or a trusted maritime attorney.