Harbor and longshore workers have federal protections that cover medical expenses for catastrophic injuries. This is through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
If you work in the maritime industry, you might wonder if you have coverage under the LHWCA. See below for a brief overview of the act and how it might benefit you.
1. Who does the LHWCA cover?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the LHWCA covers ship-repairers, shipbuilders, shipbreakers, harbor construction workers and longshore workers. However, this is not an exhaustive list. If you suffered from a disabling injury while working in United States waters, there is a good chance you have national coverage.
2. How is it different from the Jones Act?
The LHWCA does not cover masters or members of a crew on board maritime vessels. However, this distinction might not always be clear. To be a crew member, you must contribute in some way to the operation of a ship or the success of a mission. If this describes your profession, you likely have coverage under the Jones Act.
3. How do I file a claim?
Maritime workers who suffer a workplace injury should report it to their supervisor as soon as possible. To receive compensation, you must file a claim with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). You need to submit the claim within one year, or your employer can attempt to deny compensation. If your employer or insurance provider becomes insolvent, the OWCP has a Special Fund that compensates you for injuries.
Working conditions are often dangerous for maritime professionals. It is essential to understand the federal protections and that your employer does not neglect their legal obligations.