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The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

As skilled maritime attorneys, we are acquainted with the federal statutes and other considerations that define a victim’s claim for monetary compensation after an injury on a vessel or otherwise at sea. Still other laws apply to people who are injured while working in maritime-related occupations, but not as a crew member on navigable waterways.

Longshore and harbor workers experience a variety of injuries and fatalities either on shore or when sent to perform a specific task on board a vessel or drilling rig. This danger requires specific workers’ compensation protection and is outlined in the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. At Doyle LLP Trial Lawyers, our attorneys are well versed with the Act and how to best seek to recover compensation.

            The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides certain maritime and non-maritime workers the right to pursue compensation for on the job injuries. Similar to other workers’ compensation programs, the act gives the absolute right to workers to receive benefits in case of workplace injury. No matter who was at fault for the injuries, if covered by the act the employee is entitled to benefits.

Rules Employers and Insurers Must Follow

  • Employer
    • Due to the hazardous nature of longshore and harbor work the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established standards for the trade. OSHA regulates general working conditions, protective equipment, working areas and procedures for handling cargo and equipment. Your employer is required to implement these standards. Further information on rules and regulations can be seen on their website.
    • After an employee is injured the employer or insurer must provide adequate medical care for the injury or illness throughout the process of recovery. The care should be provided until full recovery or maximum medical improvement is met.
    • The employer cannot discharge or discriminate against an employee for claiming or attempting to claim compensation unless claim was false.
    • Maintain records of injuries and report them promptly when they arise
  • Insurer
    • Respect the right of the employee to choose an attending physician to provide medical care
    • Provide past and future wages as detailed in the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
    • Pay claim barring a reasonable basis not to do so
    • Conduct timely investigation
    • Confirm denial is proper before withholding payments
    • These requirements of medical care and financial compensation must be provided regardless of who is at fault for the injury
    • Following these rules ensures the best chances for medical recovery, financial protection and return to work
    • Put the interests of the worker’s health over monetary interests
    • Hire impartial reviewers that are not biased by own financial gain or against certain medical treatments or providers.

Covered under LHWCA

The federal government created the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) in 1927 to cover longshore and harbor workers along with other maritime workers not covered by the Jones Act.      

The LHWCA covers various workers that support the maritime industry, as well as non-maritime jobs on navigable waters and civilians working on overseas military bases.

Maritime Workers eligible for compensation under the act include:

  • Longshore workers unloading and loading vessels
  • Workers building, breaking and repairing ships
  • Harbor construction workers
  • Workers at piers, docks, terminals and wharves or other maritime connected locations

 

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act was implemented in 1953 and established the US government’s title and jurisdiction over the outer continental shelf. The Outer Continental Shelf is defined as all submerged lands lying seaward 3 miles off the US shore and under U.S. jurisdiction. The Department of the Interior was given the ability to grant leasing rights for oil and mineral production along with creating safety standards for them. The act also extends the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act to employees working on the outer continental shelf for the exploration and development of natural resources and not covered by the Jones Act. Those employees include workers on offshore drilling platforms, oil rigs or other fixed platforms on navigable water.

These employees include:

  • Non-maritime workers on offshore drilling platforms, docks, ship terminals, oil rigs or other fixed platforms that are on navigable water
  • Offshore drilling platforms and oil rigs

A 2012 Supreme Court decision in Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP v. Valladolid stated the OCSLA extended coverage of the LHWCA to workers injured or killed onshore that can establish a substantial nexus to exploration and development of natural resources offshore. If the injury was a result of offshore activities, the LHWCA may apply.

 

Defense Base Act (DBA)

The Defense Base Act (DBA) was enacted in 1941 to provide extended workers’ compensation coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) to civilians working on government contracts outside of the continental United States. The act covers American citizens and foreign nationals.

Those covered include civilians working outside the continental United States:

  • For authorized private companies or contractors on US military bases.
  • Under contract with the US government for public works or national defense.
  • On welfare or similar services for troops and authorized by the Department of Defense
  • On lands occupied or used by the US for military purposes
  • For allies on military related projects
  • On welfare projects approved by the US government (?)

The Defense Base Act provides benefits in the case that civilians are injured, killed or kidnapped during their work for US government military activities. Further info can be found on their website.

Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (NAFIA)

The Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act extends certain parts of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act to civilian employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities of the Armed Forces. Non-appropriated funds are acquired through services given to the armed forces and under the military’s jurisdiction. The services provide comfort, pleasure, contentment, and mental and physical improvement for the military. An example of this would be the numerous military exchanges throughout the world. More information can be found on the government’s website.

ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU UNLESS WE WIN.

The lawyers at Doyle LLP have vast experience in offshore claims and understand numerous federal maritime laws, such as the Jones Act law, that apply to offshore claims. Our Texas firm works every day to help clients across state lines and international borders in their maritime accident claims. Contact a Longshoreman Lawyer Today!

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