1) What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)?
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation statute that covers injured workers engaged in “maritime employment.” Longshore claims are handled by administrative process through the U.S. Department of Labor as opposed to the Louisiana State Department of Labor, which handles state compensation claims. Injured workers who qualify for Longshore benefits also will receive these benefits regardless of employer fault.
LHWCA covers employees in occupations having a traditional relationship to maritime employment. Coverage is dependent upon the location where the employee was working, and dependent upon whether or not the type of work performed had a traditional relationship to maritime employment.
2) Which applies Louisiana Worker’s Compensation or LSHWA?
Coverage is clear with regard to workers engaged in such longshore operations as loading and unloading a vessel, but the question becomes more more difficult when these activities are coupled with shore-side activities that may be some distance from the pier. Finally, the category of Jones Act Seamen, for members of a crew of a vessel, can further complicate which law applies to whom.
In addition to the persons who actually load and unload cargo, support persons are also necessary and they are traditionally covered as a part of the loading and unloading business. For example, "checkers" are used both on vessels and on the docks to keep track of the cargo being loaded and unloaded. However, it is not necessary that the employment activities take place on or near a pier at the water's edge. Persons who work in shipyards building, repairing or tearing down vessels are also covered under the LHWCA as well as persons involved in building docks or other structures over the water. Truck drivers, forklift operators, crane operators, and others, may sometimes also be covered under the LHWCA.
Finally, employees on fixed oil production platforms on the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico and on fixed platforms elsewhere are also covered by the Act.
3) Am I eligible for Longshore benefits?
You should be eligible for Longshore benefits:
If you load, unload, repair, build or disassemble vessels.
If your job assignment requires you to work in or on navigable waters.
If you work on the waterfront engaged in activities to support a shipping operation.
4) What is the difference between Longshore and Louisiana Workers’ Compensation?
Workers engaged in maritime employment come under the federal LSHWA, whereas most other employees are covered by state Workers’ Compensation.
5) What type of Longshore benefits can I receive?
LSHWA benefits are either fixed according to a schedule or are unscheduled. Unscheduled benefits are usually preferable.
Scheduled Benefits include:
1. Temporary Disability payments for a “scheduled” number of weeks
2. Lifetime medical treatment to cure and relieve the effects of the injury
3. Permanent Disability payments
4. Mileage reimbursement
5. Job Retraining / Rehabilitation Services
6. Death Benefits
Unscheduled benefits can be disability payments for life.
6) If I am injured on the job, what is the first thing I should do?
Report your accident or injury to your employer as soon as possible and get a copy of the accident report for your records.
7) How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer?
Nothing. Attorney fees may be paid by the employer if awarded and are based on the hours worked subject to review by both the employer and awarded by either the Claims Examiner or ALJ. No fees are due from the injured worker unless there is a recovery and these are also based on the hours worked subject to review by both the employer and awarded by either the Claims Examiner or ALJ.
8) Why should I hire a Longshore lawyer to handle my Longshore claim?
If there is a 3rd party responsible for the accident, EXTREME care must be taken to avoid losing all your rights to all LSHWA benefits (as even more draconian rules apply here than under Louisiana Worker’s Compensation). An experienced attorney is more likely avoid pitfalls such as these even as he gets you all of the benefits you deserve. An experienced attorney will make sure that your interests are aggressively represented thru out the administrative process, that your losses are fully compensated and will negotiate settlement of your claim should you decide to settle for a lump sum payment.
THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT AN ACTUAL LAWYER FOR ADVICE ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL SITUATION.