Injuries on the job can be devastating for you, your family, and your future ability to work in your chosen field. That is why the concept of workers’ compensation insurance came into being.
Specifically with regard to employees who work on the navigable waters or adjoining waterfronts of the United States, the U.S. government, in 1927, stepped in to make sure those workers had insurance protection. Ultimately, the workers’ compensation protection plan was set forth in the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, often referred to as the “Longshore Act.”
The Longshore Act’s purpose is to offer compensation and medical care to employees disabled from injuries that occurred on the navigable waters (or in adjoining areas typically used for loading, unloading, building, or repairing a vessel) of the U.S. The Longshore Act also provides benefits to dependents of employees who sustain fatal injuries. Usually, an insurance company pays the workers’ compensation benefits under the Longshore Act. In some cases, however, employers may get special permission to self-insure their employees. In those cases, the self-insured employers handle the claims and provide the benefits.
Because the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act obscure to most, Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. – the expert Longshore & Defense Base Act attorneys – are happy to provide you with answers to some frequently asked questions.
Who Administers the Longshore Act?
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) within the U.S. Department of Labor administers the Longshore Act. Accordingly, a good deal of information and most required claim forms can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
Who Does The Longshore Act Cover?
The Longshore Act has rules for both employers and employees. With regard to employers, the Longshore Act covers employers who employ full- and part-time workers for maritime work or in a maritime occupation.
With regard to employees, the Longshore Act covers employees engaged in maritime work, or in a maritime occupation on the navigable waters of the U.S. or in adjoining waterfront areas. That includes, as you would expect, a longshoreman or other persons engaged in longshoring operations; and any harbor worker, such as workers who repair, build, or break down ships.
Initially, the Longshore Act only covered those injured while working on the navigable waters of the U.S. However, the Act was later amended and extended Longshore coverage to most maritime and dock workers.
It is important to note that certain other workers are covered through Acts that are extensions of the Longshore Act. Those relevant laws include:
- The Defense Base Act – workers’ compensation coverage for civilian contractors working outside the U.S. under U.S. government contracts to support U.S. military efforts and various public works abroad.
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act – workers’ compensation coverage, as you might expect, for employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the U.S., for example, oil platform workers.
- Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act – workers’ compensation coverage for civilian workers of non-appropriated fund entities of the Armed Forces, such as duty-free stores on military bases or morale, welfare, and recreation employees.
Who Is Excluded From Longshore Act Coverage?
If state workers’ compensation law covers an employee, then the Longshore Act does not cover individuals employed:
- Exclusively to perform office clerical, secretarial, or data processing work;
- By a club, camp, recreational operation, restaurant, museum, or retail store;
- By a marina and who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina;
- To build, repair, or break down any recreational vessel under 65-feet in length;
- As aquaculture workers; or
- By suppliers, vendors, or in other work not typically covered by the Longshore Act
Moreover, the Longshore Act does not cover masters or crew members of a vessel; a person engaged to load, unload or repair a vessel under 18 tons; and employees of the U.S. government or any state or foreign government. Be sure to consult with a Longshore Act attorney to understand all of the exclusions related to the Act.
What Types Of Benefits Are Provided Under The Longshore Act?
- Medical Care. Any medical care that is causally related to the work injury and also deemed reasonable and medically necessary by a physician. The coverage also covers travel and mileage incident to any medical treatment. An injured employee may get services from the doctor of his or her choice but cannot choose a doctor who is excluded by the Department of Labor regulations to render medical care under the Longshore Act.
- Disability Compensation. Disability under the Act is both a physical and economic term that essentially means the inability to earn pre-injury wages due to a work-related injury. Compensation is paid based upon the classification of disability which include: (i) permanent total, (ii) temporary total, (iii) permanent partial, or (iv) temporary partial. Such compensation is typically paid out every two weeks.
- Rehabilitation. Job rehabilitation compensation is paid to individuals accepted into the Department of Labor rehabilitation program which includes evaluation, testing, counseling, selective placement, and retraining (if the employee cannot return to his or her former job). However, an individual must apply for acceptance into the DOL rehabilitation program and selections are voluntary.
- Death Benefits. Death benefits are available to a surviving spouse and are paid at 50% of the average weekly salary of the deceased employee. The benefits are available for life or until remarriage. Death benefits are also available to surviving dependent minor children. The dependent minors are entitled to16.6% of the decedent’s average weekly wage for a max of 66.6% between the surviving spouse and dependent children. Other eligible survivors are paid at a similar percentages of the decedent’s weekly salary; they include parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren who were dependent on the deceased employee at the time if death.
What Do I Do If I Am Injured?
- Notice. Tell your employer immediately. If medical care is necessary, ask for a Form LS-1 from your employer, which allows treatment by a physician of your choice.
- Treatment. Get the necessary medical treatment as quickly as possible.
- Written Notice. Provide written notice of your injury within 30 days to your employer on a Form LS-201. Notice of death should also be made within 30 days.
- Written Claim. File a written claim for compensation on Form LS-203 within 1 year after the date of injury (or last payment of compensation, whichever is later). Similarly, a claim for survivor compensation from should be filed within 1 year of the date of death. Some exceptions to the filing requirement are allowed depending on the circumstances.
It is highly recommended that you retain the services of the seasoned Longshore and DBA attorneys at Doolittle & Tucker to assist you with the difficult claims process.
Experienced Longshore Attorneys Can Make Your Longshore Act Claim Much Less Difficult for You.
If you have suffered an injury covered by the Longshore Act, then your focus should be on getting better, getting the treatment you need, and preparing to get back into the workforce. By the same token, if a loved one suffered a fatal injury covered by the Act, then the most important thing you need to do is tend to your family and your loss.
In either situation, you would be wise to find a Longshore Act attorney with a proven track record of excellence in handling Longshore and Defense Base Act cases. Our team at Doolittle & Tucker has the experience, the resources, and the specialized expertise to help you with your case. We are Longshore Act attorneys who care passionately about making sure our clients get the compensation and medical care they need and deserve.
We invite you to contact us to learn more about what Doolittle & Tucker can do for your Longshore Act case, and for your peace of mind. Call today at 904.396.1734.