Longshore Act and Defense Base Act Q & A

At Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. we are passionate about helping our clients get the compensation they deserve for their work-related injuries.  We have been in the field for decades, and we have worked hard to distinguish ourselves as the finest workers’ compensation attorneys in Jacksonville, FL.

We feel that we have been successful in our journey, which is why so many clients and potential clients come to us with any number of important questions about the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act), and most particularly about the Defense Base Act.

Given that we field so many questions about those all-important workers’ compensation programs, we thought it would be a good idea to provide you the benefit of some answers to the most common questions we receive about the Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act.  Accordingly, this article will cover some of the most frequent, and important, questions we receive.

While this blog only allows for some overarching information on the relevant subjects, you should contact us to obtain counsel specific to your situation.  We are ready to help you, and can do so with a free case review.  Call us at Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. – the best workers’ compensation attorneys in Jacksonville, FL – to get the answers to your questions.  Call today at 904-396-1734.  Now, on to the top questions of the day.

Question 1 – How Do I Prove My Injury Was Caused by My Work Under the Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act?

Generally, in order to be covered under the Longshore Act or Defense Base Act, you, as an injured worker, need demonstrate that:

  • Your working conditions were such that they could have caused, or did cause, the injury itself, or
  • Your working conditions could have aggravated, accelerated, or contributed to a pre-existing condition that resulted in your current condition.

Once you have demonstrated the above, you have essentially “proven” your injury for workers’ compensation purposes under the Longshore Act and Defense Base Act.  Your employer, however, can rebut your proofs.  If an adjudicating body like an Administrative Law Judge from the Department of Labor finds that the employer has made a substantial showing that your injury is not work related, then you must gather more documentary evidence – medical records, witness testimony – to further prove your injury was work related.

If your employer does not rebut the premise of your workers’ compensation claim, however, then you should be covered under either the Longshore Act or Defense Base Act, whichever applies.

Question 2 – Do I Get to Choose My Doctor Under the Longshore Act or Defense Base Act?

Absolutely.  Under both the Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act, you get to choose your own doctor.  Most likely, the employer’s insurance company will ask that you fill out a “choice of physician” form.  That means that once you select a physician, you need to remain with that caregiver unless the physician refers you to a doctor in a specialized field.  It would be wise to speak to an attorney before completing the “choice of physician” form, just to make sure you understand the significance of completing that form in relation to your workers’ compensation claim.

Question 3 – How Do I Know if I Am Even Covered Under the Longshore Act or the Defense Base Act?

Under the Longshore Act, in order to be covered, you need to meet two requirements – the “situs” and “status” requirements.

Under the “situs” test, which can be thought of as a locational requirement, the Longshore Act covers non-seaman marine workers on the water, and on the piers, wharves, drydocks, terminals, marine railways, and oil rigs.  It also covers employees injured while working in any adjoining area used to load, unload, repair, or build a vessel.

Under the “status” test, which can be thought of as what jobs or tasks make a worker eligible, you are covered if you are a longshoreman, waterfront crane operator, stevedore, terminal worker, shipyard employee, shipbuilder, and vessel repair worker.

With regard to the Defense Base Act, you are covered if you are a civilian contractor working overseas in support of the U.S. military.  That includes food services employees to security forces overseas.  The Defense Base Act also covers people working in U.S. territories or other countries abroad, working for humanitarian relief like the Peace Corps, and even recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

You would be smart to consult an attorney if you are injured on the job in Florida, in order to make sure that you are covered by the Longshore Act or Defense Base Act, rather than Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law.

Question 4 – How Long Am I Entitled to Medical Care under the Longshore Act and Defense Base Act?

In theory, you are entitled to medical treatment for a work-related injury for the rest of your life, under both the Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act.  To obtain such a benefit, you need to continue to prove that the medical treatment you are receiving is both reasonable and medically necessary.   The medical treatment, however, can cease if you settle your case, or if you aggravate or re-injure the original injury outside of work.

Question 5 – Do I Need to Notify my Employer of My Injury Under the Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act?

The Longshore Act and the Defense Base Act require that you notify your employer and, eventually, the Department of Labor, in a timely way.  Those deadlines are important to know, because your ability to collect on your claim could be taken away if you miss a deadline.  Though your employer may advise you on reporting deadlines, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you do not miss any important deadlines.

Top Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Jacksonville, FL Can Help You. 

If you are injured on the job, then you need to make sure that you maximize the compensation owed to you.  The best way to accomplish that is to call the best workers’ compensation attorneys in Jacksonville, FL – Doolittle & Tucker.  Call us today for a free consultation at 904-396-1734.