Perhaps you are one of the many dock workers at the Port of New Orleans, and you spend your days loading and unloading cargo.

If you fall and break your leg during a loading operation on a barge, how long do you have to file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act? Also, what benefits can you expect?

LHWCA basics

Since you work in the port area, which adjoins the Mississippi River, a navigable U.S. waterway, you are eligible to receive coverage for your medical expenses and more under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. In addition to the costs of the medical treatment for your broken leg, benefits will include the cost of prescription drugs, as well as the cost of traveling back and forth for your medical appointments.

Rehabilitation

You will also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation to assist you in returning to work. There is no cost to you for such services; in addition, you are eligible to receive $25 per week while rehabbing.

Disability

The purpose of LHWCA disability benefits is to provide partial coverage for the wages you would lose due to your injury. The calculation of the amount will be according to your pre-disability wage. Both maximum and minimum benefits adhere to National Average Weekly Wage guidelines from the Department of Labor. LHWCA also covers you if you should become totally disabled and can no longer work. Keep in mind that you do not have to pay federal income tax on disability benefits.

Filing a claim

You must notify your employer with 30 days of the date of your injury. However, you have one year from that date to file your claim, which will go to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program. The complex claim process for LHWCA benefits is navigable with legal assistance, so that you can focus your efforts on rehabilitation and recovery.