Gulf Coast Law Firm For Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation
People who are injured working on docks, piers, bridges, harbors, warehouses, shipyards, and overseas U.S. defense bases could be covered under Alabama workers’ compensation, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), or the Defense Base Act (DBA). It may be difficult to figure out which program applies in your case, but we can help.
The Mobile workplace accident attorneys at Thiry & Caddell, LLP have extensive experience with these claims. We can help you navigate the reporting process and ensure you are getting the full benefits you need and deserve. Contact our office today to learn more about your options.
Who Is Covered Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The LHWCA is a federal workers’ compensation act that provides benefits to certain maritime employees and the civilian employees working on military bases around the world. Respecting maritime employees, the LHWCA covers longshoremen, harbor workers, and most people who work on shipyards and docks.
To figure out if you’re covered under the LHWCA, you must meet both the “status” and “situs” tests.
The status test relates to the nature of your work. To be eligible for LHWCA benefits, your job must involve performing “maritime” work at least part of the time for your employer. This means that at least a portion of your duties involves either marine transport or something else having to do with the water.
Some classes of employees are always eligible for LHWCA benefits. These include people who help in loading and unloading vessels, shipbuilders, ship repairmen, and shipbreakers. Even the drivers that regularly move shipping containers away from vessels qualify.
But the LHWCA specifically excludes some other classes of employees. These include:
- Captains and crew members of vessels (they are covered under the Jones Act)
- Shipbuilders of recreational vessels under 65 feet long
- Repairmen and mechanics of recreational vessels
- Aquaculture workers
- People employed at a marina who are not engaged in the expansion or construction of the marina
The other test for coverage under the LHWCA is the location, or situs, test. This has to do with where the employee generally works. Specifically, only employees who work on, near, or adjacent to navigable water are covered under the LHWCA.
An employee can work “on” a vessel or ship as long as they are not a crew member of that vessel. They must work at least part-time on wharves, piers, terminals, dry docks, or other areas that are used by the employer to load, offload, build, repair, or dismantle a vessel to meet this test.
Common Accidents and Injuries Sustained by Longshoremen
Working on docks and near the water can be dangerous. There are a multitude of hazards that can cause serious injury and even death. Some of the most common causes of injuries and illnesses in this environment include:
- Falling objects and loads
- Malfunctioning equipment, such as forklifts, cranes, and trucks
- Slippery surfaces
- Chemical and electrical fires
- Drowning or near-drowning accidents
- Explosions due to hazardous cargo
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Extreme weather conditions, including heat, humidity, and storms that are frequent on the Gulf coast
Extensions of the LHWCA
An experienced injury lawyer is familiar with the federally mandated laws created to protect injured workers operating near waterways or on military bases. Some of the extensions of the LHWCA include:
- Defense Base Act– DBA covers civilian employees working on U.S. military bases or property used for military purposes overseas.
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act– OCSLA covers employees working on exploring and developing the natural resources of the U.S. starting at three nautical miles offshore.
- Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act– NAFIA covers any civilian employees of the U.S. Armed Forces non-appropriated fund instrumentalities, such as those working in recreational and support facilities.
Your Rights and Duties Under the LHWCA
The LHWCA provides injured workers for coverage of medical care related to the injury as well as wage replacement equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage while recovering from the injury. If there is permanent disability, there is also a payment based on a schedule. Further, the LHWCA pays a death benefit to eligible survivors for work-related accidents.
If you’ve been injured while employed in a maritime position, you should notify your supervisor immediately. You will need to give written notice of an injury within 30 days of an accident or within 30 days of discovering that a disability or injury is related to your work. You should also notify your Longshore District Office.
When you file a Longshore claim, you are entitled to choose your own physician for treatment. But, once you seek medical care for an injury, you must continue that care until you are discharged or until your employer or the insurance company agrees that you can change doctors.
Additional Claims Beyond Longshore Workers’ Compensation
Similar to a state workers’ compensation claim, a claim through the LHWCA is generally your sole remedy for injuries on the job. In other words, you can’t sue your employer to recover losses for pain and suffering.
But, you may be entitled to additional compensation depending on the circumstances of your accident and your particular situation. For example, a third-party lawsuit might be possible if you were injured because of an equipment malfunction. In some cases, you may also be eligible for Social Security Disability. Our legal team can help you explore these options to maximize your recovery.
Contact Our Experienced Longshore and Harbor Worker Lawyers Today
Claims that fall under the LHWCA can be complex, and we understand that dealing with the emotional and physical trauma of an injury can be challenging. At Thiry & Caddell, LLP, we have been safeguarding the rights of injured workers for over 40 years and will do the same for you.
Our firm is committed to helping you maximize your recovery from every available resource. Contact us today at (251) 478-8880 or reach out to us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you secure benefits from LHWCA and the potential for other options.