Q: I am a longshoreman, and I was injured at work a few weeks ago. Can I still make a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act?
Because of the unique nature of longshore and harbor work, people who dedicate their careers to this environment have equally unique protections afforded them in the event that they are injured at work. The federal Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is similar to standard state government workers’ compensation programs, but is often more beneficial to injured longshoremen. With greater disability coverage and higher payouts, longshoremen would be wise to take advantage of LHWCA benefits.
As with regular workers’ compensation coverage, LHWCA has strict deadlines that injured workers must adhere to in order to receive benefits. Injured longshoremen must report their injuries to their employers and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs within 30 days of becoming injured, with two important exceptions:
- When your injury did not cause you to become disabled immediately. If the effects of your injury took a while to develop, you have a duty to report the injury within 30 days of becoming aware of the effects of the injury.
- When you are suffering from a job-related illness. Longshoremen often work with materials or machinery that can cause serious occupational illness. In this case, you must submit a report within 30 days of realizing that your job-related illness caused you to miss work.
In general, any kind of workers’ compensation claims—even claims under the LHWCA—follow the “better sooner than later” rule. The longer you wait to file your claim, the larger the window of opportunity becomes for your employer, insurance, or claims judge to argue that your injury was not the result of your job.
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