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Understanding Your Benefit Rights Under the Longshore and Harbor Worker Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers many workers ineligible for Jones Act benefitsLongshore and harbor work can be incredibly dangerous in addition to physically demanding. As a result, many men and women employed in this type of work risk becoming injured on the job. Unfortunately, standard workers’ compensation does not cover offshore employees. In fact, many onshore laws and regulations do not apply to offshore workers. Instead, the Jones Act provides the equivalent of workers’ compensation for people who work aboard vessels of all sorts.

But what about workers whose jobs neither qualify for worker’s comp nor Jones Act benefits? How are longshoremen's, dock workers', and harbor employees' rights protected?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

When injuries occur on oil rigs or vessels that don’t qualify coastal trading ships, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) steps in as a sort of workers’ compensation  replacement. It is specifically designed to cover maritime workers who do not receive Jones Act coverage.

LHWCA Coverage

The LHWCA entitles maritime workers to receive all necessary medical care needed to treat their workplace injuries. Furthermore, the LHWCA does not place a limit on the amount of medical treatment that can be awarded to an injured worker, as long as the treatment provided is deemed reasonable and medically necessary for your recovery.

Unlike standard workers’ compensation, LHWCA benefits do not stop at medical compensation. It also provides coverage for the following:

  • Funeral costs. The LHWCA will cover reasonable funeral expenses up to $3,000.
  • Spousal support. If the maritime worker leaves behind a spouse but no children after death, the spouse will receive 50 percent of the deceased’s wages during widowhood or widowerhood. If the spouse becomes remarried, he or she will receive two years’ compensation in one sum, and then the benefits will end.
  • Child support. If the maritime worker leaves behind a spouse and children, each child will receive 16.6 percent of the employee’s wages. If a child is left behind and the worker wasn’t married, the child will receive 50 percent of the employee’s wages.

Qualifying for LHWCA

To qualify for LHWCA benefits, an employee must pass both the status test (regarding the nature of his or her work) as well as a situs test (where the work is performed). Generally speaking, the employee must perform maritime duties on or near navigable waters to receive monetary benefits.

It’s important to note that while the LHWCA does cover a broader range of employees than the Jones Act (and to a better extent), it still does prohibit certain individuals from collecting benefits.

Upholding Your Rights

If you’ve recently been injured in a work-related accident and need help with your injury claim, call our office today. Our knowledge and eagerness to fight to uphold your LHWCA rights will help you realize why having an experienced lawyer is essential to pursuing the settlement you deserve. Don’t hesitate any longer. Remember, your future is at stake, so contact Attorney Steve Lee today!

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Steven M. Lee
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