Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation FAQs
Who is covered by the LHWCA?
The LHWCA covers employees in traditional maritime occupations such as longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers. The injuries must occur on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining areas, including piers, docks, terminals, wharves, and those areas used in loading and unloading vessels. Non-maritime employees may also be covered if they perform their work on navigable water and their injuries occur there.
What Is The Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from on the job injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel.
The LHWCA also provides for payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes, or contributes to, the employee’s death. These benefits are typically paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance company on the employer’s behalf. The term “injury” includes occupational diseases, hearing loss and illnesses arising out of employment. Additional information can be found on the US Department Of Labor’s website… click here.
What is the difference between the Jones Act and the LHWCA?
The Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) and the LHWCA (33 U.S.C. § 901-950) are mutually exclusive regimes providing compensation for work-related injuries suffered by different categories of maritime employees. The LHWCA excludes from its coverage a “master or member of a crew of any vessel.” Instead, crew members are covered by the Jones Act. The term “master or member of a crew” is refinement of the term “seaman” in the Jones Act. As a result, the key requirement for Jones Act coverage appears in the LHWCA.
The determination turns solely on the employee’s connection to a vessel in navigation. It is not necessary that an employee aid in navigation or contribute to the transportation of the vessel in order to be “seaman” under the Jones Act, but the employee must be doing the ship’s work by contributing to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission.
What is the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)?
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) is charged with oversight of four federal workers’ compensation statutes, including the LHWCA, and its extensions. Within the OWCP, the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC) administers the LHWCA.
What is my responsibility to report the injury?
You must give a written notice of injury to the employer within 30 days of the occurrence of the injury or within 30 days of when you become aware that you have an injury or disability related to the employment. You should use Form LS-201, Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death, for this purpose.
How do I file a claim for compensation?
In addition to the Notice of Injury given to your employer, you should file a written claim with the OWCP within one (1) year after the date of injury; or, if the employer has been voluntarily paying compensation benefits, you should file a written claim within a year of the last payment of compensation.
If a written claim is not filed with OWCP within the required timeframe, the employer may object and deny compensation benefits should you become disabled due to the injury.
Occupational Diseases Under LHWCA
An occupational disease is an illness or medical condition which develops as a result of exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace. Occupational diseases may be caused by exposure to harmful substances resulting in conditions such as pulmonary diseases: asbestosis and mesothelioma (which results from asbestos exposure); auto-immune diseases; skin diseases; or asthma (which may result from exposure to chemicals or other elements involved in industrial processes). Many occupational diseases and conditions have a long latency period and do not become apparent until considerable time elapses after the workplace exposure has occurred.
Am I entitled to benefits if I suffer from an occupational disease?
You may receive compensation and medical benefits if your illness is related to on-the-job exposure to harmful conditions or substances. You may even be entitled to benefits for an occupational disease where your symptoms or disability do not occur until after you have retired.
What should I do if I think I have an occupational injury or illness?
First, you should notify your employer that you have an occupational disease in the same way you would notify your employer of a work injury.
You should also file a claim and try to obtain a medical report describing your work history, medical history, diagnosis of your condition and explanation of the relationship between your past employment and your current medical condition. A copy of this report should be sent to your employer and to the OWCP.
How much time do I have to file a claim for occupational injury or illness?
If you suspect you are disabled by an occupational disease, or if a doctor tells you that you need treatment for a medical condition which may have been caused by your employment, you have two (2) years to file a claim. The two years begin to run from the date you first become aware of the relationship between the occupational disease, your disability, and your employment. You need not file a written claim, or Form LS-203 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation), until you have a disability associated with your occupational disease, or if you are retired, until you have been found to have a ratable permanent impairment. No time limit applies to a claim for medical benefits.