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What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

February 22, 2023

Why Was the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) Created?

Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) in 1927. At the time, it was legally necessary to create a federal workers’ compensation program because employees who worked on navigable waters were not covered under any state’s workers’ compensation system due to the federal government having jurisdiction over maritime areas. The LHWCA was expanded in 1972 to protect workers employed in areas next to navigable waters, ensuring that all longshoremen would receive benefits.

While the LHWCA is a federal program that is administered by the Department of Labor, the benefits are paid by the private companies that employ the longshore workers or their insurers. However, in cases where the company has gone bankrupt, a special fund is in place to cover claims. This multi-tiered system can make filing and appeals somewhat complex for injured employees. A longshore accident attorney can simplify the process and be the advocate you need when seeking compensation for your losses.

Who is Covered by the LHWCA?

The LHWCA protects many types of workers employed in traditional maritime and offshore occupations. This includes:

  • Ship repairers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Longshoremen
  • Harbor construction workers

For an employee to be eligible for coverage, they must be injured while working on the navigable waters of the US or in areas that adjoin the water, such as piers, wharves, and docks. Non-maritime workers may be included in the LHWCA as well if they suffer an injury while working in these areas.

Congress has also passed extensions to the LHWCA that provide coverage to various individuals, such as offshore drill rig operators and contract workers for the US armed forces on military bases worldwide. If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for LHWCA benefits or other compensation, contact a knowledgeable maritime accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Who is Excluded From LHWCA Coverage?

Not everyone who works on or near navigable waters is eligible for LHWCA benefits. Some groups who are excluded include:

  • A master or member of the crew of a vessel (these individuals are covered under the Jones Act instead)
  • US or foreign state government employees
  • Certain individuals covered under state workers’ compensation laws
  • Workers injured while intoxicated
  • Anyone who causes intentional harm to themselves or others

What Benefits Does the LHWCA Provide?

The LHWCA provides benefits similar to state workers’ compensation programs, but LHWCA benefits are often better for the injured worker. For example, many state workers’ compensation plans will pay 60% of an injured employee’s average weekly wage as part of total temporary disability (TTD) benefits. In contrast, LHWCA will pay two-thirds of their average weekly wage for TTD benefits. Longshoremen also have the option for permanent total disability (PTD) and permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits that are adjusted annually based on the National Average Weekly Wage.

Other benefits that injured workers may collect under the LHWCA include the following:

  • Medical expenses for treatment.
  • Cost of transportation to and from appointments.
  • Vocational training for a new position if the injury prevents you from returning to your previous employment.

If a longshoreman dies due to job-related injuries, surviving family members may also file for death benefits under the LHWCA.

What Are the Time Limits for Filing a Claim?

It is critical to the success of your claim to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and retain official documentation of your injuries. To protect your right to compensation, you should provide written notice of your injury to your employers within 30 days of the incident or when you became aware of the injury. To recover LHWCA benefits, you must file a claim with the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP) within one year.

There are some exceptions to the one-year time limit, but filing as soon as possible is always recommended. If you have questions about filing, do not hesitate to contact an experienced longshore accident attorney in San Diego for more information.

What Legal Rights Do You Have as a Longshoreman?

As a longshoreman, you are an integral part of the nation’s supply chain and deserve the safest workplace possible. If you become injured through a work accident, you have the right to recover medical expenses, a portion of your lost wages, and any necessary vocational training for a new position through the LHWCA. You are eligible to receive these benefits without having to prove fault or negligence. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting your injury and exercising your right to seek benefits. If your injury was fully or partially caused by a third party, such as a manufacturer of defective equipment, you also have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that individual or entity for damages.

How Can a Longshore Accident Attorney Help You?

While you have the right as a longshore worker to file an LHWCA claim, properly filing the necessary forms can be challenging, and there is always the risk that your employer or their insurer may reject it. Solid legal counsel can give you the best chance of recovering full compensation for your damages.

As a longshoreman, you may have several viable options for financial recovery for your injuries under maritime and personal injury laws. A skilled longshore accident attorney can help you determine the best legal approach for your unique case. Reach out today for a tailored case evaluation.

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Cases We Handle

  • maritime worker working on ship

    Longshoremen & Shipyard Workers

    Longshoring and shipyard work are very dangerous occupations. Workers in these fields, along with marine construction workers, are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a very generous no-fault workers’ compensation system. It covers medical expenses, temporary disability, permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation.

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  • sea vessel docked at US shore

    Jones Act Seamen

    A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or group of vessels under common ownership or control. The vessel can be anything from a raft to a cargo ship. We represent seamen who work aboard recreational vessels, tugboats, dredges, barges, skiffs, workboats and cargo ships. We also represent seamen who are marine construction workers

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  • Diving

    We represent people who have been injured in SCUBA diving accidents and Commercial diving accidents. We also handle diving boat accidents. Diving can be very dangerous. We successfully represented a commercial diver who was seriously injured while cleaning the propeller of a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor

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  • accident at construction site and hard hat on floor

    Construction & Industrial Accidents

    Construction and industrial sites can be very dangerous. Although you generally cannot sue your own employer for a construction site or industrial accident (generally workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy against your employer) there are many circumstances in which you can file a third party lawsuit against an entity other than your employer for an unsafe condition at a work site which causes you to be injured

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  • Forklift and Crane Injuries Lawyer

    Crane & Forklift Accidents

    The Easley firm has extensive experience with crane and forklift accidents and workplace accidents involving dangerous equipment and machinery. These accidents can be caused by operator error and they can be caused by the unsafe and defective condition of the equipment

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  • auto accident involving two cars on a city street

    Motor Vehicle & Truck Accidents

    Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injury and death. These kinds of accidents can involve automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and unsafe road design and unsafe road conditions

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  • Catamaran Injuries Attorney

    Passenger Vessel Accidents

    Passenger accidents are common on recreational vessels, catamarans, tour boats and cruise ships.  They are frequently caused by rough sea conditions and unsafe conditions aboard the vessels.  The Easley firm has extensive experience in the field of maritime law.  We have made new law in the field of maritime law with numerous precedent setting decisions in the State Appellate Courts, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court

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  • Defense Base Act

    The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act which covers civilian employees of U.S. defense contractors injured overseas, including war zones. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensations Act as extended by the Defense Base Act is a very generous no fault workers’ compensation system

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Areas Where We Practice

Preston Easley is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He served five years of active duty as a Naval officer — three years as a deck officer on a fast frigate and two years as a patrol boat skipper. Mr. Easley also served aboard a tank landing ship in the reserves.




Let Us Get You The Compensation You Deserve

Preston Easley is an experienced lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state personal injury cases. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Attorney Easley represents victims of serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, construction projects and maritime work.

Construction Workers We Help

  • Crane and Forklift Operators
  • Pile Drivers
  • Scaffold Workers
  • Iron Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Operating Engineers
  • Electricians

Maritime Workers We Help

  • National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) Shipyard Workers
  • Manson Construction Company Workers
  • Manson Dredging Workers
  • Dutra Dredging Workers
  • Commercial Divers
  • Scuba Divers
  • Commercial Fisherman
  • Government Maritime Claims Against the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, or the US Coast Guard, etc.
  • Marine Construction Workers
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Workers
  • Seamen
  • Shipyard Workers
  • YYK Enterprises, Inc.
  • Pacific Tugboat Service
  • Long Beach Container Terminal
  • Tugboat, Dredge, Longshoremen, and Ferry Workers
  • Barge Crews and Barge Workers
  • Marisco Limited
  • HL Welding
  • SSA Marine
  • Catalina Express
  • R.E. State Engineering
  • Shimmick Construction
  • Nova Group
  • American Scaffolding
  • Safway Scaffolding
  • Kirby Tugs
  • Crowley Tugboats
  • P&R Water Taxi
  • Continental Maritime
  • Pacific Ship Repair
  • Seaward Marine
  • Healy Tibbitts
  • General Construction
  • BAE Shipyards
  • South Coast Welding
  • Matson
  • Pasha
  • Hawaii Stevedores, Inc.
  • McCabe, Hamilton & Renny
  • Young Brothers
  • Sause Bros.
  • Foss Maritime
  • Fenix Marine Services
  • ITS
  • Total Terminals
  • TraPac
  • PCMC
  • Maersk
  • Yang Ming
  • China Overseas Shipping
  • Evergreen

Boating Accidents

  • Catamaran Accidents
  • Charter and Tour Boats
  • Cruise Ship Accidents
  • Passenger Accidents
  • Jet Ski and Personal Watercraft
  • Motorboat Accidents
  • Recreational Accidents
  • Scuba Diving Accidents
  • Speed Boat Accidents
  • Yachts and Sail Boat Accidents
  • Repair Accidents
  • Crew Accidents
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