Suppose you suffered work-related injuries on United States waters or while building, repairing, loading, or unloading a ship or vessel. In that case, your injuries will be covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Because workers’ compensation does not cover those working on the water, and the Jones Act only covers people who work at sea, the federal government has enacted the LHWCA to bridge this gap.
According to lipcon.com in Miami, the LHWCA offers compensation for medical benefits, lost income, and rehabilitation services to harbor, longshore, and other maritime workers injured during their employment. While the act covers concussions, sprained ankles, or other physical injuries, it also covers disabilities and diseases that developed over an extended period as a result of employment.
To be eligible for the LHWCA program, you must be one of the following:
- You are covered employee under the LHWCA or one of its extensions and suffered a work-related illness or injury.
- You are a widow or widower whose family member died due to a work-related injury.
If you have been injured, you should notify your employer immediately. If your injuries need medical treatment, ask your employer for a Form LS-1, as it will authorize treatment by a healthcare provider of your choice. Then get the necessary medical care as soon as possible.
Give your employer a written notice of your injuries within 30 days on Form LS-201. This deadline is the same for a notice of death. Additional time is only provided for hearing loss and occupational disease claims. The faster you report your injury, the better your chances of having your claim approved.
Finally, file your written claim for compensation on Form LS-203 with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) within one year after the date of your injuries. If your employer has been paying your benefits voluntarily, you still must file your claim. However, you can do it within one year from the date of the last disbursement. Separately, you should file a claim for survivor benefits within one year after death.
If your injuries resulted in disability, you might be entitled to compensation for the ongoing medical treatment required. In many cases, non-economic damages may also be available, which compensate you for the intangible damages you suffered from the accident.
Unlike workers’ compensation, whose benefits typically last for ten years, LHWCA benefits are for life. This explains the insurance companies’ resistance, as LHWCA benefits are extremely valuable. Insurance companies will most likely push back against your claim, arguing that your injuries are not work-related or are a pre-existing condition. Even if your claim is eligible and accepted, they could try to shortchange your benefits or terminate your claim as soon as possible.
There are law firms dedicated to defeating LHWCA claims. So, if you are injured on the water, an LHWCA attorney can guide you through the minefield of discovery proceedings or other issues that might arise during your claim. The attorney will navigate the process by filling out all the necessary forms and claims and identifying potentially liable third parties. Moreover, they will fight for your rights and represent you to ensure you receive the total compensation and support to which you are entitled.