Workers Compensation:

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Passed in 1927, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) offers coverage to maritime workers who are hurt on navigable waters. The LHWCA was created because the Jones Act and state workers’ compensation laws did not sufficiently protect maritime employees working on navigable waters. Administered by the Federal Department of Labor, compensation under the LHWCA does not depend on negligence or fault on part of the employer.

Employees Covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The LHWCA covers maritime workers who become injured on U.S. navigable waters. "Navigable waters" refers to areas where a boat can stay afloat. In other words, those working on a pier, dry dock, wharf, terminal or land that adjoins water can be compensated for their injuries under the LHWCA.

While job titles do not determine eligibility for workers compensation under the LHWCA, several occupations are generally accepted as maritime workers, including:

  • Longshoremen
  • Dock workers
  • Ship builders and repairmen
  • Welders
  • Employees loading and unloading cargo
  • Oil-production fixed platform workers
  • Crane operators

A maritime worker injured at work has 30 days to notify their employer of the injury. The worker also has a year from the date of the accident to file a formal LWHCA claim with the Department of Labor. The employer then has the opportunity to dispute the workers' compensation claim or begin providing payment within two weeks of the accident. If the employer argues the claim, a conciliation procedure will take place to help the parties come to an agreement. If the employer and employee cannot reach an agreement, an administrative law judge from the Department of Labor will conduct a hearing to reach a decision.

Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Benefits

If the maritime worker is awarded workers' compensation for his or her injuries, these benefits can include:

  • Weekly pay of two-thirds the average weekly salary
  • Partial disability benefits
  • Medical treatment
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Funeral expenses and death benefits if the worker is killed

If you are a maritime worker who was injured on the job, you have a time limit within which you must file your claim. After notifying your employer, contact the U.S. Department of Labor to submit a formal claim. Additionally, if your injuries were caused by the negligence of another company, speak with a workers’ compensation attorney immediately.