LHWCA or The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a federal law. This law aims to provide compensation and medical care to harbor workers who are accidentally injured while on duty within the territorial waters of the U.S., including the adjoining areas. It also includes those harbor workers who contract an occupational disease while doing their duty.
Normally, the compensation benefits are awarded by self-insured employers, or if they have currently enrolled in an authorized insurance carrier, the insurance company will pay it for them. In some cases, the compensation benefits are paid by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that comes from their special fund depending on the circumstances.
Who is protected under this law?
When we say harbor workers, it consists of different types of people handling different kinds of maritime occupations, which usually include longshore workers, shipbuilders, ship repairers, and shipbreakers. Unfortunately, office-based harbor employees, small vessel workers, and people who engaged in repairing recreational vessels along with the captain and the crew are not eligible to obtain compensation benefits under this law. To learn more about LHWCA, visit a cruise ship accident attorney who is experienced and expert on this subject matter.
Fortunately, in this article, we are going to discuss some important information about LHWCA that you might want to know.
1. LHWCA requires both “Status” and “Situs”
The person involved must be working on their specific task assigned to them and must be at the right place and at the right time when the accident occurred to claim compensation under LHWCA. And of course, and more importantly, it should be within the navigable waters of the United States. These two requirements should be present when filing for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claim.
2. Your AWW will depend on the earnings you have for the past 12 months
When claiming benefits under the LHWCA, one should expect that the computation will be based on the worker’s “average weekly wage” for the past 12 months period. This means that the law won’t compute based on how much you are earning annually but instead look at your weekly average pay. However, in case that you haven’t worked or in duty for the last 12 months before getting involved in an accident, there are still other ways to calculate your AWW, and it’s still under the LHWCA.
3. The injured worker has automatically given “the benefit of the doubt”
Yes, you have read that, right! Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the injured worker enjoys a presumption that their injury was work-related. However, the court still gives the employer a chance to prove otherwise. But if the employer doesn’t challenge that presumption, the worker is then automatically entitled to any compensation.
4. Any permanent injuries in the neck, back, or shoulder could lead to a lifetime wage-loss benefit
Under the LHWCA, there are two kinds of benefits. First is called scheduled benefits, where the employer or the insurance provider will pay the worker the necessary compensation depending on the worker’s injuries. Non-scheduled benefits, on the other hand, calculates the compensation on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if the injury in the neck, back, or shoulder is non-curable and deemed to be permanent, the compensation could lead to a lifetime of lost wage benefit.
5. ‘Intoxication’ is the only way for an employer to get a chance to avoid paying benefits
This doesn’t mean that an employer needs to get drunk. What we mean is that if a harbor worker is proven that they are under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, then the employer can challenge the claim that the injury isn’t work-related. However, the employer must provide concrete evidence as well as witnesses to prove that the worker is really intoxicated, and it is also the cause of the accident. Once the court has proven that the worker is under the influence of the alcohol, and truly it’s the cause of the accident, the employer can avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits under the Act.
6. The compensation is subject to increase based on the current cost of living
According to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, compensations, death benefits, and a lifetime of lost wage benefits are subject to increases based on the country’s current COLA or the ‘cost of living.’ This is highly beneficial to the beneficiaries since the compensation benefit might not be that relevant to the cost of living 10 or 15 years after the injury.
7. You need to timely file the necessary documents to avoid penalties
The DOL or the Department of Labor requires certain forms that need to fill out. This is a standard procedure for all the government agencies for proper documentation. Failure to fill up and file those forms can lead to unnecessary penalties, and worse, you might also lose the chance to pursue a claim for benefits. So make sure not to miss any of these processes to avoid penalties as well as the ability to pursue a claim.
Conclusion and Credits
Fighting for compensation and benefits under LHWCA is not an easy road. To learn more about LHWCA, or other maritime injury claims, you need a professional and experienced lawyer that would guide you and help you through the process.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, acquired three U.S. Coast Guard licenses and worked on offshore oil drilling platforms for more than seven years, Keith S. Brais brings an uncommon degree of real world experience to clients’ personal injury and wrongful death claims.
His unique maritime education and experience, combined with his professional legal expertise and trial skills provide invaluable benefit to clients when describing the dangers associated with maritime employment to a judge or jury. Keith S. Brais is one of a very specialized group of lawyers in the State of Florida that is Board Certified in Maritime and Admiralty Law by the Florida Bar. Additionally, Keith S. Brais holds an “AV” rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating attainable.
Video – Keith S. Brais talks about Maritime Claims