Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act


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The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides workers' compensation benefits for maritime workers who are not seamen. The benefits the statute provides, like a state workers' compensation scheme, do not depend on finding that the employer was at fault. These benefits include disability payments and rehabilitation services. The act also provides benefits to survivors when a maritime worker dies from work-related injuries.

About the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is a comprehensive workers' compensation scheme for maritime workers who are injured on navigable waters. The law fills a gap that exists between the Jones Act, which protects seamen, and state workers' compensation, which cover injuries occurring within a particular state, but not usually on navigable water. The compensation system is administered by the Federal Department of Labor, and injured workers who qualify for coverage are entitled to disability benefits. Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act the right to receive benefits does not depend on a finding that the employer was at fault for the worker's injuries much like state Workers' Comp law.

The scope of the Act: Who is covered.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act covers injuries that occur during maritime employment on navigable waters of the United States. Maritime employment includes the loading/unloading vessels, repairing vessels and building a vessel. The term refers to Navigable waters places beyond where a boat could float-Navigable water can include places on land that adjoin water. A worker who is injured on a pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, can be compensated under the Act. Areas near a pier or wharf can also can be included in navigable waters such as areas for loading, unloading, repairing, or building vessels.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides medical and disability benefit as well as rehabilitation services. The medical services must relate to the injury or illness sustained on the job. Occupational disease that "arises naturally" from marine employment are also included such as a welder who worked in a shipyard who develops a chronic illness as a result of handling asbestos at work. The Act also provides wrongful death benefits to survivors of a worker who is killed on the job.

Rules for claiming the benefits

An employee who is injured on the job has just 30 days to give the employer notice of the injury. When the employee develops a disabling condition or illness that is work related, notice also must be provided. A formal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act claim for benefits must be filed with the Department of Labor within one year from the date of injury. An employer can dispute the claim or begin voluntary payment within fourteen days of the accident. If an employer disputes the claim there is a conciliation procedure. designed to help the parties come to an agreement about how the dispute should be resolved. If the parties cannot resolve the problem, an administrative law judge (ALJ) working for the Department will conduct a hearing and render a decision.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act also allows an injured worker to sue persons or entities, other than the employer or a co-worker, whom the worker believes to be at fault for his or her injuries. Such when a worker is injured on a vessel, there may be a claim of negligence against the vessel and its owner. However, the worker is not permitted to allege a claim of unseaworthiness, because that claim is reserved to seamen.


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