The Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) was introduced to provide coverage for injured maritime workers who do not meet the definition of a seaman required to bring a claim under the Jones Act. LHWCA benefits are similar to state workers’ compensation benefits and include rehabilitation services, disability payments and benefits for the survivors in case of death. The LHWCA is also no-fault, meaning that there is no need to find fault with the employer in order to receive compensation.
Prior to introduction of the LHWCA, a disturbingly large number of maritime workers were falling through the gap between state workers’ comp laws and the Jones Act. These workers were primarily those that build, service, load and repair ships along with those responsible for driving trucks, operating forklifts and handling cargo. As a result, these maritime workers were denied any benefits for their failure to meet the strict requirements of the Jones Act and state workers’ comp laws. The introduction of the LHWCA bridged the gap.
Under the LHWCA, injured maritime workers are required to notify their employer about any work-related injury or illness within thirty (30) days. It is always a good idea to report an injury immediately after it happens. In addition, injured employees must file their LHWCA claim for benefits with the Department of Labor no later than one year after the date of the injury or its diagnosis. Conversely, employers have just two weeks (14 days) to either dispute the claim or begin making payments. In the event of a dispute, there is a procedure in place to encourage reconciliation of the conflict. If even after this procedure there is still no agreement, an administrative law judge (ALJ) under the Department of Labor will conduct a hearing over the matter and render a judgment.
If you or someone you love has been hurt offshore, contact the experienced Maritime Lawyers at Zehl & Associates today for a free, confidential consultation regarding your rights: 1-888-302-3838.