What Types of Benefits Does LHWCA Provide?
The LHWCA provides benefits that are like those available through the Texas workers’ compensation system. However, instead of being administered by a state agency, the federal Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the LHWCA. The benefits which the LHWCA provides to eligible longshoremen and harbor workers include:
- Medical benefits: If you get hurt or become ill because of your job, you will want to get proper medical care right away. The LHWCA will cover those expenses, including the costs of surgery, hospitalization, medication, assistive devices, transportation and more. The law allows you to choose your doctor as well. You can receive these medical benefits for as long as your injury or illness requires.
- Disability compensation: If your injury or illness prevents you from returning to your job, or if you can go back to work in only a limited capacity, then you may also qualify for disability benefits. Depending on your type of disability, you could receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage or two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage and what you earn now (subject to an annually adjusted cap).
- Rehabilitation services: Many workers need physical therapy or occupational therapy to help them to adjust to life and work after they have suffered a catastrophic injury. The LHWCA will cover those costs, too.
- Death benefits: If a maritime work-related injury or illness causes or contributes to a worker’s death, then the worker’s surviving spouse, children or other dependents may be eligible to receive death benefits. The LHWCA also provides up to $3,000 in burial and funeral expenses.
At The Seerden Law Firm, we know how these benefits can make a major difference in your life. We have the knowledge, experience and resources that it takes to fight for what you deserve.
Does the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Cover You?
Not all maritime workers qualify for LHWCA benefits. To be eligible, you must satisfy two tests:
- Status test: Your regular job duties must be connected to the building, repairing, loading and unloading of a vessel (or fleet of vessels). If you are a ship breaker, ship builder, ship repairer, harbor worker or longshoreman, you should meet this test. If your job only partially involves maritime work, or if you are only temporarily employed in the maritime industry, you likely would not meet this test.
- Situs test: Your work must also take place on the navigable waters of the U.S. or on any adjoining dock, pier, wharf, terminal or railway which a maritime employer customarily uses for the dismantling, repair or construction of vessels or for the loading and unloading of vessels. However, if you work exclusively in an office and perform clerical work, you would probably fail to pass this test.
Additionally, your injury or illness must arise within the course and scope of your maritime employment – not on your personal time. The LHWCA is a no-fault system. So, it doesn’t matter whether your employer’s negligence or even your own negligence caused your injury or illness. However, if you intentionally harmed yourself or hurt yourself because you were intoxicated on the job, your claim will be barred.
The LHWCA specifically excludes government employees as well as seamen whose injuries and illnesses are covered by the Jones Act. If you fall into those categories, you should consult with The Seerden Law Firm to learn about other options that may be available to you.
What Types of Maritime Injuries and Illnesses Does the LHWCA Cover?
Several different types of accidents and injuries can occur while you are engaged in work at a dock, harbor or terminal. Some of the most common accidents are:
- Falls from heights
- Slips, trips and falls
- Fires and explosions
- Getting struck by objects
- Getting caught in equipment
- Drowning or near-drowning
Maritime workers often suffer life-changing injuries such as fractures, dislocations, burns, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, soft tissue damage, hearing loss and vision loss. Additionally, many of them suffer harm due to repetitive motion such as lifting heavy objects or constantly bending and twisting. Back injuries such as bulging or herniated discs are highly common in this industry as well. Some workers suffer significant aggravation of a pre-existing condition due to an accident that occurs at their maritime job.
The LHWCA also covers occupational diseases, including:
- Skin diseases or disorders
- Respiratory conditions
- Cardiovascular disease
- Mesothelioma and asbestosis
When you work with The Seerden Law Firm, we will launch an immediate investigation into your injury or illness. Our goal will be to determine what happened to you as well as the effect on your health and your ability to work. As part of that investigation, we will gather and study your medical records and consult with your treating physician.
How Do You File a Claim for LHWCA Benefits?
To obtain medical and/or disability benefits through the LHWCA, you must file required paperwork and meet all deadlines. If you fail to do so, you could lose the opportunity to receive benefits. For this reason, you should consult with an experienced maritime injury attorney at The Seerden Law Firm as soon as possible. We will ensure that you take timely and proper steps to pursue the benefits that you are due.
For instance, under the LHWCA, you must give written notice to your employer within 30 days after your accident occurs or within 30 days after you initially discover that you have suffered an injury related to your maritime employment. You must use Form LS-201, or Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death. We can help you to submit the form. If you fail to meet this requirement, then you can expect your claim for disability benefits to be denied (although you may still be eligible to receive medical benefits).
In addition to giving notice to your employer, you must also submit Form LS-203, the Employee’s Claim for Compensation, to the OWCP within:
- One year from the date of your injury, or
- One year from the date of your last disability compensation payment if your employer had voluntarily been making those payments to you.
If you suffer from an occupational disease, you must file your disability benefits claim with the OWCP within two years from the date when you first became aware of the relationship between your disease, disability and employment. If you file a claim for death benefits, then you must file the claim within one year from the date of your loved one’s death.
A claims examiner at OWCP will review your claim and try to resolve any dispute about your claim between you and your employer. If the claims examiner cannot reach a resolution, then your case will go to the Office of Administrative Law Judges for a formal hearing.
Our Houston LHWCA Attorneys Are Ready to Help You
If you are a harbor worker or longshoreman who has been injured while working on or near a pier, wharf or dock in Houston or elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, The Seerden Law Firm wants to help you. We understand that this can be a difficult time. Fighting with your employer and trying to obtain Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act benefits can make it an even more stressful and confusing time for you.
Our legal team will work closely with you, handle every aspect of your case from the start and aggressively pursue all benefits that you are due. We have extensive experience in maritime law and know what it takes to recover benefits. We will charge nothing for our services unless we obtain benefits for you. To learn more, contact us today and allow us to review your case in a free consultation.