Overview of the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Essentially, longshoremen are employees of stevedoring companies who load and unload ships. Legally, longshoremen are employed as “non-seamen.” Their work is stressful and demanding. They are responsible for properly loading thousands of tons of dead weight in such a way that won’t damage the ship or its crew. Companies seek experienced longshoremen to organize loading and unloading, and operate the heavy machinery, such as cranes. In order to become a “regular longshoreman,” you must log 2000 hours on the docks. Until then, you are considered a casual longshoreman. Since longshoremen work on docks near huge ships, heavy equipment and large bodies of water, injuries are commonly caused by falling containers, moving vehicles, near-drowning accidents, slips, falls, fires, faulty electrical equipment and other hazardous conditions.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides employment injury and occupational disease protection to approximately 500,000 workers who are injured or contract an occupational disease on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas. These benefits are paid by an authorized insurance carrier, self-insured employer, or by a special fund administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The act covers maritime workers, longshore workers and harbor workers. Excluded workers include masters or crews of vessels and any government employee of the United States working on the ship. Other excluded individuals include any workers who are covered by state workers’ compensation laws.

Disabled employees receive compensation at a rate of 66 percent of the employee’s weekly wage for as long as the employee is disabled. Compensation is also available for some permanent impairments. If an installment of compensation is not paid within fourteen days after it is due, an additional ten percent will be added to the unpaid amount. The act also requires the injured worker’s employer to pay for all reasonable and related medical expenses. In order for employers to secure the payment of compensation and medical benefits, they must either purchase insurance from a commercial insurance carrier recognized by the Department of Labor or obtain the Department of Labor’s permission to self-insure.

An employer may not terminate or discriminate against an employee who has claimed, or attempted to claim, compensation unless that employee has filed a fraudulent claim for compensation. The Longshore Act also requires employers to maintain records of injuries sustained by employees for the past three years. This includes both lost-time and no-lost-time injuries. Insurance carriers are also required to maintain similar records. If you are a longshoreman or harbor worker, and you were injured on the job, contact a Beaumont personal injury attorney at Brasher Law Firm, PLLC. You deserve to be fully compensated, and we will work closely with you to ensure your fair treatment under The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.