Understanding Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): A Comprehensive Overview

Understanding Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): A Comprehensive Overview

Mississippi longshore or harbor workers injured on the job may be entitled to compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. However, understanding your rights and whether you are covered under the law can be complex. Consider contacting Lott Law by calling (228) 215-2787 to learn more about your legal rights and options after an on-the-job injury.

What Is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

In South Mississippi and South Alabama, when workers get injuries while working on docks near the water – Huntington Ingalls, Bollinger, Signet Maritime, Austal Shipyard, and others – they are covered by Federal Law and not Mississippi or Alabama workers’ compensation.

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a federal law that provides workers’ compensation benefits that cover certain private sector maritime workers. Benefits are provided to employees who work on United States navigable waters on vessels. 

While most injured workers in Mississippi turn to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission for help with covering the costs associated with an at-work accident, injured longshore and harbor workers typically turn to a private insurance company that provides workers’ compensation benefits for the employer or to their self-insured employer, for similar kinds of compensation. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers typical on the job injuries stemming from workplace accidents, as well as for occupational diseases, illnesses, and hearing loss that arise out of employment in covered positions. 

According to the Congressional Research Service, benefits provided under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act include:

  • Medical care – The law provides for the full cost of any medical treatment associated with a covered maritime injury or illness. Covered employees do not have to pay any deductibles, copayments, prescription medication, or other medical costs. Employees can generally select their own doctor.
  • Disability benefits – The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides partial wage replacement benefits to covered workers who are unable to work because of a covered workplace injury or illness. The amount of benefits is based on the worker’s pre-disability wage. The minimum payment is 50% of the National Average Weekly Wage while the maximum is 200% of the National Average Weekly Wage.
  • Vocational rehabilitation services – These services help covered workers return to employment if an employee is partially disabled because of the workplace injury or illness. These services are provided by public or private rehabilitation agencies.
  • Survivors’ benefits – The program provides survivors’ benefits to the families of covered workers who die on the job. Insurance policies under the LHWCA also  provide benefits to surviving spouses and minor children of deceased workers. Surviving spouses are entitled to one-half of the deceased worker’s wage at the time of their death if they have no eligible children. Surviving spouses with eligible children are entitled to third-thirds of the wage. Burial and funeral benefits of up to $3,000 are also available. 

An on-the-job injury can lead to uncertainty about providing for your family, but the benefits offered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may be able to help.

Who Is Covered by the Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

According to the Department of Labor, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers traditional maritime occupations when injuries occur on any of the following:

  • The navigable waters or the United States 
  • Piers
  • Docks
  • Wharves
  • Terminals
  • Areas where vessels are loaded or unloaded 

Categories of employees covered under the Act include:

  • Longshore workers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Ship breakers
  • Ship repairers
  • Harbor construction workers 
  • Non-maritime workers who perform work on navigable waters or adjoining areas
  • Employees of private employers on United States military bases or lands used by the United States for military purposes outside the country
  • Employees on public work contracts with any United States government agency
  • Employees on contracts funded and approved by the United States under the Foreign Assistance Act
  • Employees for American employers that provide welfare services outside the United States for the benefit of the Armed Services
  • Employees on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States to explore and develop natural resources
  • Civilian employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities of the Armed Forces

If you would like to learn more about whether you are covered under this law and the benefits to which you might be entitled, a knowledgeable lawyer from Lott Law can discuss this information with you during a free case review. 

Who Is Excluded From the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

A few groups of workers are specifically excluded by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, including the following:

  • Masters or members of a vessel crew
  • United States government or foreign government employees
  • Employees whose injuries were caused solely by their intoxication or their own attempt to harm themselves

Additionally, employees in any of the following categories can be excluded from coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act as long as they are covered under state-level laws governing workers’ compensation:

  • Employees who exclusively perform office clerical, secretarial, data processing, or security work
  • Aquaculture workers
  • Small vessel workers who are excluded by the Secretary of Labor
  • Marina workers or others who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina 
  • Club, camp, restaurant, museum, retail, or recreational operation employees
  • Employees who build any recreational vessel under 65 feet in length 
  • Employees of suppliers, transporators, or vendors who are temporarily doing business on their employer’s premises, and are not engaged to work normally performed by employees of that employer who are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

How Is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Different From the Jones Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act specifically excludes masters or members of a crew of a vessel. The Jones Act covers these employees, also referred to as “seamen.” Employees cannot qualify for benefits under both programs simultaneously. They are covered by one or the other program. The determination of which program applies is based solely on the employee’s connection to the vessel on which they are working at the time of the incident that triggers the workers’ compensation claim. 

Contact a Knowledgeable Maritime Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you would like to submit a claim for coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, an experienced Mississippi lawyer from Lott Law may be able to help by reviewing your case, determining if you are eligible for workers’ compensation under the Act, and helping you file a claim. To learn more, call (228) 215-2787 and request your free consultation. 

 

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a workers’ compensation program in which people who work for companies that operate on docks and along the shoreline are protected and covered by this Federal Statute. Longshore claims are administrated by the United States Department of Labor wherein injured workers are compensated for their injuries through their employer.

It is best to speak to a knowledgeable maritime injury attorney for help with understanding the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Who Are Longshoremen?

The definition of a Longshoremen is a person employed at a port to load and unload ships. Longshoremen work on a dock or port performing manual labor. A dock could be as broad as a shipyard or another kind of operation that is along a wharf or a waterway. The work must be on or near the shore, and the operations that they are engaged in has to be connected with that industry. If a person works on a dock in a front office, they are not covered by the Longshore Act.

This maritime law works for injury claims on the job because if a longshoreman is injured as a result of their employment, their employer would have to file a report of injury with the Department of Labor. If they are not capable of going back to their regular duties, their employer has to compensate them two-thirds of their average weekly wage and provide medical care.

Types of Recoverable Damages Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

There are no benefits provided to family members of those that apply to the Longshore Act for an injured worker. However, if a longshore worker is killed, there are death benefits available to the next-of-kin, which is usually a spouse and/or children. If no spouse and children are available, benefits move down the line to parents and siblings.

The damages recoverable under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are two-thirds of the individual’s average weekly wage as long as they are unable to work. Most people usually recover and go back to their regular job duties. There are certain people that can not go back to their regular job but may still be able to work in some capacity. What usually becomes the point of contention is what kind of job and what wages are available to an injured worker who can not return to their regular job duties.

The employer is still liable for any kind of deficit in earning capacity and earnings and their average weekly wage, even if the injured person is able to go back to work in some capacity. Furthermore, the employer almost always is liable for medical benefits related to the injury suffered on the job.

Body Injury Awards

There are two kinds of bodily injury awards available scheduled injury award and whole-body injury award.  Scheduled injuries are those severe injuries to the extremities, including the arm, leg, fingers, and toes. The Department of Labor sets amounts on those injuries. Injuries to the whole body will affect present and future earning capacity and will be subject to dispute.

It is best to speak to a knowledgeable maritime injury attorney to learn about unique aspects of maritime laws and the specific benefits an individual may be eligible to recover under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

How a Maritime Injury Attorney Could Help

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act could be challenging to understand without the help of a knowledgeable maritime injury award. Injured claimants may be eligible for a wide range of damages. Injured individuals should reach out to a skilled maritime injury award to learn more about the type of benefits they may be eligible to recover. Call today to schedule a consultation.