Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

This law is in place to protect the rights of the half of a million people in the maritime industry who make their livings upon the United States’ navigable waters. This act allows these workers to seek compensation and damages for injuries suffered in the course of their work, as well as for occupational diseases that they may contract. To quote the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act itself:

“The Act provides for compensation and medical care to employees disabled from injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas used in loading, unloading, repairing, or building certain vessels. The Act also provides benefits to specific survivors and dependents if the injury causes the employee’s death.”

As you can see, there are a number of different kinds of maritime workers who are covered by the LHWCA. These workers are longshoremen, those who repair ships, maritime construction workers and even ship builders. The LHWCA, however, does not cover seamen. Instead, those maritime workers are covered by something call the Jones Act, which is distinct from the LHWCA.

What Benefits Are Afforded By the LHWCA?

The LHWCA affords benefits in much the same manner that individual states afford benefits through their worker’s compensation laws. For this reason, one should note that in certain cases, state worker’s compensation laws may trump those of the LHWCA, which is a federal law. One of the other important features of the LHWCA is that, like state worker’s compensation laws, an employer doesn’t have to be shown to be at fault in order for a worker to seek and receive compensation.

Here are the things that the LHWCA covers for maritime workers. Naturally, they are entitled to seek compensation for their medical bills, as well as for disability payments. Further, the law provides for compensation that’s meant to cover rehabilitation from injuries, in addition to vocational rehabilitation. Maritime workers can seek compensation for medical benefits that are needed to treat any occupational diseases that a worker might contract in the course of their job. When a maritime worker pays the ultimate price, the LHWCA still applies. The law allows the deceased maritime worker’s survivors to seek wrongful death benefits.

How Much Can I Get with a LHWCA Claim?

Like other forms of worker’s compensation, a claim that’s made through the LHWCA is based upon the maritime worker’s wage. When that employee becomes disabled, they are entitled to receive two-thirds of their weekly wage for the duration of the recovery and rehabilitation period of their injuries. Whatever that rate may be, it should be noted that it is subjected both a maximum value and a minimum value. If a maritime worker is permanently disabled, they may be able to seek and receive long-term compensation through the LHWCA.

If a maritime worker dies as the result of an accident that’s covered by the LHWCA, then that worker’s surviving spouse is entitled to compensation. The value of this compensation is equal to half of the deceased maritime worker’s weekly wage. In addition to this, the maritime worker’s surviving dependents are entitled to receive payments equal to 16 and 2/3% of the deceased worker’s wage.

How Can I File a LHWCA Claim?

Maritime laws are complex and, as has already been noted, they sometimes run against local worker’s compensations law. Therefore, it’s advisable that you seek the services of a qualified maritime attorney if you’ve been injured in the course of your work. He or she will be able to determine which laws apply, state or federal, and they’ll also know what steps to take in order to secure you and your loved ones maximum compensation.