If you work on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining areas, such as docks, piers, terminals, wharves, or areas where loading and unloading of vessels take place, you need to know about the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
What is it?
Very briefly, historically, those working on the navigable waters of the United States were not entitled to compensation if they were injured.
The LHWCA is a federal law. It can pay injured maritime employees who qualify under the law’s specific rules, compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services. The LHWCA also provides benefits to specific survivors and dependents if the injury to the injured worker causes his/her death. The law is very specific and has strict rules and definitions. The term “injury” includes occupational disease arising out of employment.
What You Should Know
A comprehensive discussion of the LHWCA is beyond the scope of this post, however, there are some things about the law that you should be aware of.
Here are just 3 things you should know.
1. The LHWCA is Not the Jones Act.
The LHWCA does not apply to all maritime workers and it should not be confused with the Jones Act. The Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) and the LHWCA (33 U.S.C. § 901-950) are mutually exclusive. Although both laws provide compensation for maritime work-related injuries, they apply to different maritime employees.
For example, to qualify for coverage under the Jones Act, you must be a “seaman.” The LHWCA, on the other hand, excludes a “master or member of a crew of any vessel” from coverage. Crew members are covered by the Jones Act.
The LHWCA covers employees in traditional maritime occupations such as longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers. The injuries must occur on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining areas, including piers, docks, terminals, wharves, and those areas used in loading and unloading vessels. Non-maritime employees may also be covered if they perform their work on navigable water and their injuries occur there.
2. You May Not Be Discharged For Asserting Your Rights.
Another important thing to know about the LHWCA is that you may not be fired for exercising your rights under the Act.
Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee because he or she has claimed or attempted to claim compensation or has participated in a proceeding under the LHWCA. On the other hand, that does not mean that any employee making a false claim under the LHWCA cannot be fired. (They can.)
3. Congress Extended Who the LHWCA Applies To.
As seen above, the LHWCA is specific and limited. To remedy this, Congress enacted “extensions” of the LHWCA. These extensions include other types of employment. Employees covered by these extensions are entitled to the same benefits, and their claims are handled in the same way as LHWCA claims.
Injury Attorneys, You Can Count On.
At the Day Law Group, we handle the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act cases. We fight hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve. We offer FREE consultations. Our offices are in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.