As a state mostly bounded by water, Florida provides many maritime-related jobs to its citizens. Whether it is a job at a harbor, on the docks, on a ship, or at an amusement site that involves the sea, an important employment question arises when you get injured on the job – what type of workers’ compensation is available to me?
In Florida, depending upon the type of job you have, you could be covered by one of two types of workers’ compensation programs – The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act) or Florida’s Worker’ Compensation Law.
At the law firm of Doolittle & Tucker, we understand the details of each type of law and which would apply to your situation. This article will provide you with an overview of the difference between the two workers’ compensation laws.
For a more detailed discussion of the applicable laws how they relate to your particular circumstances, our team of legal experts can provide you with a free case review. We at Doolittle & Tucker can help you know the options you have, and how to proceed under the applicable law. We are available to schedule a consultation at your convenience so you can learn more about how Doolittle & Tucker can help you with your workplace injury. Call us for more detailed information today at 904.396.1734.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The first type of workers’ compensation program is a federal program called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act), which we have covered in previous blogs. Congress enacted the law at the beginning of the 20th century, and it now covers maritime workers and civilian employees who work on military bases throughout the world.
The workers covered by the Longshore Act are those employees who do work in a maritime occupation on the navigable waters of the U.S. or in adjoining waterfront areas. The kind of work covered includes those involved in longshoring operations, and any type of harbor worker. A covered harbor worker includes those who repair, build, or break down ships. Interestingly, the Longshore Act does not cover captains or crew members of a ship.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Law
Like most, if not all, State workers’ compensation programs, Florida law requires employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for their workers. Accordingly, an injured worker will be compensated through the workers’ compensation insurance the employer obtains during the time the worker is unable to work due to injury.
The Florida law is specific as to the amount you receive in benefits based upon your injuries and your continued ability to work. Of course, as is common with any workers’ compensation program, you do not need to prove any fault for your workplace injury. You only need to show that your injury occurred when working in the course of your job duties.
Almost all occupational injuries and diseases are covered. However, if you suffer from a mental disorder (such as depression) that does not come from a physical workplace injury, then it is likely that the Florida workers’ compensation law will not provide benefits for that issue.
Can I Be Covered By Both The Longshore Act and Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law?
The answer to that question is a hard “no.” There are some states that provide “concurrent” jurisdiction for workers’ compensation, meaning that the state will allow both the state workers’ compensation plan and the Longshore Act to work together in providing appropriate benefits.
Florida happens to be an “exclusive” jurisdiction state. That means that in Florida you get either the Longshore Act coverage or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law coverage, but not both.
How Do I Know Which Workers’ Compensation Law Applies to Me?
That question is answered by determining what type of job you have. In general, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law will apply to you unless you satisfy the requirements of the Longshore Act.
To be eligible for the Longshore Act coverage, you would need to have a job that satisfies the so-called “situs” and “status” tests. In layman’s terms, those tests are as follows:
- Situs Test. This test deals with the location where you work. Only maritime workers who work on, near, or adjacent to navigable water are covered under the Longshore Act. For example, if you work on piers, wharves, dry docks, or terminals where work loading, unloading, repairing, building, or dismantling vessels occurs, then you likely meet the “situs” test.
- Status Test. This test deals with those doing “maritime” work. In general, if your work has something to do with water, or maritime transport, then you are likely covered under the Longshore Act. For example, a longshoreman clearly is covered by the Act, yet an employee of a marina who performs only office work will not meet the “status” test.
Which Coverage Is Better – Longshore Act or Florida Law?
That is the key question for any injured employee who works on the Florida coast. Generally speaking, you would rather be covered by the Longshore Act whenever possible because the Longshore Act generally provides better coverage.
To give a few examples, the Longshore Act allows you to go to the doctor of your choosing. Under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier limits your choice of doctors. Moreover, the Longshore Act provides compensation for “permanent partial” disability benefits. The Florida law only provides for “temporary total” and “temporary partial” disability benefits, but not “permanent partial” benefits.
Because Longshore Act benefits are typically greater than Florida’s workers’ compensation benefits, you would do well to obtain the services of a smart workers’ compensation attorney who will work hard to show that his or her client is eligible for Longshore Act benefits.
Florida Longshore Act Attorneys Are Ready To Help You
Because you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you demonstrate your eligibility for the federal benefits under the Longshore Act, you should call Doolittle & Tucker today. With a full understanding of what is required to prove that a worker satisfies the “situs” and “status” tests, we at Doolittle can maximize the compensation you get for your injuries. Call to learn more today at 904.396.1734.