There are significant risks related to working on docks, terminals, piers, and oil rigs. Longshore workers face the same dangers like many other industrial professions, with the added risk working near the water represents. Because of the risk of harm combined with questions of jurisdiction for injuries that occur offshore, the federal government has adopted a system for compensating injured longshore workers.
The law regarding these longshore accidents can be complex. A Gautier longshore and harbor workers’ compensation lawyer could advocate on your behalf and help you recover compensation for your injuries. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney could review the facts of the case and help you hold negligent employers accountable for their actions.
To provide for injured workers who are hurt while working on the docks, the federal government has adopted the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This statute functions much like the workers’ compensation system. The United States Department of Labor oversees compensation under the LHWCA.
The LHWCA is specific on the types of workers that qualify for compensation. There is a patchwork of federal compensation systems for different types of marine-related professions. That means many workers that do not qualify for a claim under the LHWCA might have some other remedy available. Workers that qualify for compensation include:
Employees who work for maritime operations, but who perform back-office functions, such as accounting, design and engineering generally do not qualify for Longshore benefits and will be covered by state law Workers’ Compensation. Employees working, at least some of the time, outside of a business office will be covered by the LHWCA if they meet “status” for maritime employment. For example, if their work is integral or essential to maritime activity such as the loading and unloading of passengers, cargo, equipment, and baggage onto a ship are also eligible for LHWCA benefits.
Anyone injured on a ship in navigable waters should consult with a Gautier longshore and harbor workers’ compensation lawyer to learn if they qualify.
The process of filing an LHWCA claim begins with providing notice of a workplace injury. A worker must notify both their employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs within 30 days of the injury. There are limited exceptions for occupational illnesses and minor injuries that extend the 30-day deadline. The best practice for a Gautier longshore and harbor workers’ compensation attorney is to abide by the 30-day notice requirement no matter what.
Once notified, an insurer must then decide to honor or deny the claim. If they agree that benefits are warranted, the insurance company will begin issuing payments immediately. However, if they reject the claim a worker must seek compensation through the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. This involves filing a formal claim for benefits with the office. An injured longshore worker has one year from the date of the injury to file a claim.
If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, the claim will go in front of a federal administrative law judge. At the hearing, an injured worker has the right to hire an attorney to advocate on their behalf. At this hearing, both sides can call witnesses to make their case if an injury should be covered. After the hearing, the judge will determine if benefits are necessary.
The process of recovering benefits from the LHWCA is unlike any other process. The Act has unique provisions that can be challenging for attorneys without experience in the field.
If you suffered an injury and believe you are entitled to LHWCA benefits, reach out to a Gautier longshore and harbor workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Schedule a consultation today.