What Is The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
While the Jones Act is the backbone of most American maritime law, there are a large number of acts that protect American maritime workers from injury. Chief among these is the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 USC §901, et seq., a series of federal statutes designed to provide compensation to offshore workers in the event of disability, death, or occupational disease.
The Act covers a wide number of different maritime workers currently working on the navigable waters of the United States. Any qualified worker actively employed on a pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used to build, load/unload, or repair vessels used on American waterways is eligible for compensation under the Act.
Much like the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides financial compensation for workplace injury, disability, death, and even provides for medical and vocational benefits. The big difference is that the Act is a federal law, meaning the United States government handles any Longshore Act claims through one of their 15 District Offices throughout the country. This is the primary difference between the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and other state-level workers’ compensation laws, as the United States federal government is directly responsible for any claims made under the Act.
Am I Covered By The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
Any worker currently employed and working on a navigable waterway in America whose work contributes to the maintenance, loading, unloading, or construction of a vessel. In addition, work performed on or near docks, piers, and the lick is covered as well, including but not limited to:
- winch operators
- hold men
- clerks and checkers
- dock men
- forklift operators
- ship repairmen
- ship breakers
- pile drivers
- Any workers constructing piers, wharves, or sewer out falls
- Any workers employed by a facility used as an aid to navigation or maritime commerce
Excluded from this coverage are any employees of the United States (or a United States state or municipality) government that exclusively perform non-maritime tasks such as clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing personnel. The Longshore Act also excludes from coverage a master or member of a crew of any vessel, i.e., “Jones Act seamen” from coverage. 33 USC §902(3)(G).
What Injuries Or Illnesses Are Covered By The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Longshore Act provides a number of different financial compensations for different injuries, illnesses, and disabilities, including:
- Occupational disease and infection that arises out of employment or results from accidental injury
- Injuries caused by the willful act of a third person directed against an employee due to their employment
- Physical harm caused by accident
- Physical harm caused by unsafe work conditions
- Aggravation of pre-existing condition (pre-existing health conditions aggravated or accelerated by employment)
And many more. If an injury, illness, or disability occurs during the time and space boundaries of the employment (or during the course of an activity that’s related to the employment) and the claimant has proven that they have suffered physical harm due to working conditions or the duties required by work, the Act will presume this injury was caused by the employment.
How Do I File A Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Claim?
In order to qualify for coverage under the Longshore Act, an employee and/or their dependent must give written notice to both their employer and the U.S. Department of Labor within 30 days of the date of injury or death, or within 30 days of the employee or dependent becoming aware (via reasonable diligence or medical advice) that there is a relationship between the injury/death and the claimant’s employment. For occupational diseases, this notice period can be extended for one year. Failure to give notice does not bar a claim if the employer or insurance carrier had knowledge of the injury or death. Moreover, the District Director or Administrative Law Judge hearing the claim may excuse an untimely notice if he determines that the employer was not prejudiced by the alleged lack of notice.
To ensure your claim is filed correctly and your rights are defended against the onslaught of corporate lawyers looking to prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve, you need a tough and experienced maritime lawyer in your corner. O’Bryan Law will stand up for your rights in court and will review your case to make sure you can be compensated fairly for your illness or injury. Even if your case falls outside of the statute of limitations on longshore injuries, contact O’Bryan Law today to see what can still be done to get the justice you deserve.