Three Common Questions About the Longshore and the Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

LongshoreworkersIf you are a longshore worker or harbor worker, and you have been injured in the course of your employment, you may have heard that there are additional compensation systems in place above and beyond traditional workers’ compensation. Since before 1927, the government has attempted to protect maritime workers and compensate them appropriately in the event of injury. Here are three things you need to know about the LHWCA and how it might apply to you.

What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act was created to help supplement workers’ compensation for individuals working in the maritime industry. Over the years it has been expanded and modified to include different categories of workers. Injured workers make maritime claims, and the act has since provided more than $747 million in benefits for medical and vocational rehabilitation.

I keep hearing about other acts in conjunction with the LHWCA. What are they about?

There are other acts that have historically been in place to protect the rights and needs of injured seamen, including the Jones Act, and the Merchant Seamen Protection and Relief Act of 1920. The latter was meant to provide workers’ compensation for those who were marine workers.

The Defense Base Act is an extension to the the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. For civilian employees working on military bases, or by contract with the government for reasons of national defense, there is this extended protection and compensation.

Does the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act apply to me?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act covers certain occupations, but mostly those that are not already covered by the Jones Act.

      • Traditional maritime occupations
      • Longshore workers
      • Non-maritime employees working on navigable water
      • Ship repairers
      • Dock workers
      • AAFES employees
      • Outer continental shelf workers
      • Certain government contractors in foreign countries

More than half of the Department of Defense workforce in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2011 was made up of contractors. Injuries must have occurred in certain defined areas. For example, piers, docks, wharves, navigable waters, and where vessels are loaded and unloaded are qualifying places. Note that if your injuries were sustained due to intoxication, or willfully, then you are not eligible for longshore workers compensation.

As with any form of workers’ compensation, legal advice can be sought to help sort out rights and responsibilities of employers and their employees or contractors. With the LHWCA, benefits get paid to the employer if they are authorized and self-insured. If you believe that you are covered under the act, and you are in need of compensation, there are lawyers and attorneys that might be able to help you move forward with your claim.