When harbor workers are injured, they are often left wondering how to cover bills while recovering, since they don’t qualify for coverage under the Jones Act. The good news is that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) requires your employer to prove workers’ comp benefits for you as well. If you developed an occupational disease due to exposure to harmful materials, or were physically injured in an accident at work, a maritime attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve.
Who Can Apply for Benefits Under the LHWCA in Louisiana
It’s crucial to know which maritime workers’ comp law applies to your situation, because seamen specifically can’t pursue compensation through the LHWCA. Other types of maritime employees besides sailors are likewise barred from recovering costs through the Jones Act. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may cover you if you were hurt while working on:
- Loading and unloading areas for vessels
- Navigable waters of the U.S. or any adjoining areas
Benefits are available to injured workers engaged in repair, loading and unloading, or other dock activities but who don’t actually sail with the ship as crew. Even employees who aren’t specifically in a maritime position, such as a construction worker taking part in a job on a wharf, can potentially be covered.
As long as the injury occurred or the illness was developed on United States navigable waters, the LHWCA can potentially apply to:
- Dock employees
- Divers on repair or salvage operations
- Longshore workers
- Crane operators working on docks or ports
- Harbor construction crews
- Port workers
- Shipbuilders and shipyard workers
What the LHWCA Covers and Why You Need an Attorney
Benefits are available if you suffer a temporary disability, so long as a doctor has stated you can’t return to work while recovering, or if you will have to work in a different position with less physical activity. The LHWCA also applies in situations of permanent disability if a doctor determines your condition is unlikely to ever improve. Survivors can additionally file a claim if a loved one died due to the injury. In any of these instances, the LHWCA specifically allows for benefits covering:
- Lost income, typically up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of the injury
- Medical costs
- Vocational rehabilitation
Getting all of those benefits can be difficult on your own, however. A number of potential stumbling blocks may prevent you from receiving the full coverage you desperately need while unable to work. For instance, if you recently got a promotion, your employer’s insurance company may have a skewed calculation of your “average weekly wage,” since you would have earned more if you hadn’t been hurt.
Strict time limits are another concern to keep in mind. You must report the injury to your employer within 30 days, as well as file an Employee's Claim for Compensation form to the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs within one year. Failing to meet that timeline can cause you to lose out on benefits, even if you are permanently disabled by the injury.
Gathering all the required information to file the paperwork takes time, and there are, unfortunately, instances where employers aren’t interested in moving quickly to pay what you are owed. That’s why it’s important to have the assistance of an attorney to ensure the claim is made properly and to help you overcome problems during the process. In the event your claim is denied for any reason, a maritime attorney can also help you file an appeal with the Longshore Claims Examiner overseeing your case.
Protect Your Legal Rights After a Maritime Accident by Speaking With an Attorney
If you were hurt on the job, or a loved one passed away due to a maritime injury, talk to an experienced attorney to find out if you qualify for coverage and what steps you should take next to protect your financial recovery. You deserve the full benefits owed to you after the injury and our legal team wants to help you get back on your feet. Get in touch with the Scott Vicknair Law Firm today using our online form or call directly at 504-500-1111.