The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that gives maritime workers who are injured or contract occupational diseases a way to recover for their injuries or sicknesses.
Without this important law, these workers might not be compensated for their losses because they may be excluded from state workers’ compensation laws and may not qualify as seamen. Understanding the laws that protect injured maritime workers is the first step in protecting your rights if you’ve been hurt on the job.
Are you covered by the LHWCA?
Here are a few questions you have to ask to determine if you are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act:
Are you engaged in maritime employment?
Longshoremen, harbor workers, shipbuilders, ship repairers, and ship breakers engage in maritime employment. Workers who maintain or repair equipment needed for loading and unloading ships or who spend a substantial portion of their time on navigable waters may also qualify.
Some workers are specifically excluded from the LHWCA, such as clerical, secretarial, club, camp, recreational, restaurant, museum, retail, and aquaculture workers. Some marina employees, vessel builders, vessel repairers, suppliers, transporters, and vendors are also excluded.
Did your injury occur in an area covered by the LHWCA?
The LHWCA covers injuries that occur on navigable waters, like portions of the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and other lakes, rivers, and streams. It also covers piers, wharves, and other adjoining areas used for loading, unloading, repairing, and building ships. “Adjoining areas” don’t necessarily have to be right next to the water.
Work on the Outer Continental Shelf may also qualify if the job involves natural resource exploration, development, removal, and transportation and the worker is not seamen or a public employee.
Did your injury “arise out of” and occur during the “course and scope” of your employment?
“Arise out of” means that your injury was caused by your employment, and the “course and scope” requirement means that your injury must have happened during your employment.
Generally speaking, depending on your answers to these questions, you may be entitled to benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
What benefits can you get under the LHWCA?
Workers covered by the LHWCA may be able to recover medical expenses, including surgical costs and rehabilitation expenses.
Workers may also be entitled to lost wages. The amount of lost wages owed to the worker depends on a number of things, such as the period of disability, the scope of the worker’s disability, and whether the worker was paid food and lodging expenses.
The LHWCA also provides death benefits if a worker dies because of a work-related injury. Benefits are also available if a worker who was permanently disabled from a previous covered accident dies from something unrelated to his or her job.
An injured worker likely will not have a negligence claim against his or her employer (with the exception of a potential 905(b) claim) but may still be able to bring claims against third-parties, such as equipment manufacturers.
New Orleans Offshore Injury Lawyer
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is complicated, and you have limited time to pursue a claim.
If you’ve been hurt in an offshore or maritime accident, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call a Louisiana maritime attorney at (504) 564-7342 so we can start working to get you compensated for your loss.