LHWCA Attorneys

Handling Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act Claims in Texas & Nationwide

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law in the United States that provides compensation and medical care to employees who suffer injuries or contract occupational diseases while working on navigable waters or in adjoining areas such as docks, terminals, yards, and harbors. Enacted in 1927, the LHWCA aims to fill the gap left by state workers' compensation laws, which do not typically cover maritime employment.

Under the LHWCA, eligible workers who are disabled due to work-related injuries receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages during their recovery. It also offers benefits to dependents in the event of a work-related death. The Act is administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs within the U.S. Department of Labor, ensuring that maritime workers receive fair and efficient claims processing and compensation for their injuries or illnesses.

As longshore injury lawyers, we serve workers in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and nationwide. Call (888) 493-1629 today for your free consultation.

Abogados de lesiones por accidentes marítimos y en alta mar en Houston

Trial-Tested Maritime Lawyers

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About the Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

The Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act stands as a cornerstone in the provision of benefits for maritime workers who are not covered by the Jones Act, which specifically caters to seamen. It covers a broad spectrum of people involved in maritime work, such as longshore workers, harbor workers, shipbuilders, ship repairers, and shipbreakers.

One of the key features of the LHWCA is its comprehensive coverage, which includes medical benefits, compensation for lost wages during periods of disability, and rehabilitation services aimed at assisting injured workers in returning to employment. Medical benefits under the Act cover all necessary medical, surgical, and hospital treatment associated with the work-related injury or illness, including the cost of travel required for treatment. In cases of permanent total disability or death, the Act provides for additional compensation to the worker's family or dependents.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act also outlines specific procedures for the filing of claims and the resolution of disputes. The Office of Administrative Law Judges conducts formal hearings in cases where disputes arise over the entitlement or amount of compensation, ensuring that workers' claims are adjudicated fairly and impartially.

In addition to the basic provisions, several amendments and extensions have broadened the scope of the LHWCA over the years. The Defense Base Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act have expanded coverage to include employees working on military bases, outer continental shelf lands, and those employed by nonappropriated fund instrumentalities (NAFIs) of the Armed Forces, respectively.

Why the LHWCA Is Important

In addition to loading and unloading cargo, a longshoreman must be able to complete tasks that range in difficulty. These tasks include operating equipment, transferring loaded trailers, rigging cargo, and more. The terminal areas in which longshoremen work have many safety regulations that govern the high-traffic areas and heavy equipment. When these regulations are not followed to the letter, the possibility of a serious accident is high. 

When a longshoreman is seriously injured, it's crucial for an attorney to be involved early enough to investigate. With professional legal help, you may be able to prove that your accident qualifies for compensation under maritime law.

Longshoremen's Rights Under Maritime Law

Most of the machinery used in a marine terminal requires a fair amount of skill and experience to operate safely and effectively. Due to the high potential for injury, the National Maritime Safety Administration was formed to protect the rights of those working in the marine cargo handling industry in the United States. This administration works in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide longshoremen and others in the marine cargo handling industry with information, counsel, and access to health, and safety training resources.

An injured longshoreman or harbor worker may also have the right to sue any party, other than their employer or a co-worker, who was to blame for their injuries. This might include the manufacturer of a defective product, a vendor or customer, or even a vessel owner or operator, depending on the circumstances. Having an experienced LHWCA attorney review your case is the best way to understand what options you have and what you should do next.

Receiving Disability for Breathing Problems Developed in a Shipyard

Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, you may be entitled to benefits for a work-related injury or disease, including asbestos-related lung diseases such as mesothelioma. Your employer's duty to provide disability compensation arises out of the employment relationship itself, so there is no need to show that the employer was at fault for exposing you to whatever caused your disability. Just because you did not work on a commercial vessel enough to be classified as a seaman, there are provisions other than under the Jones Act.

If it can be proved that your illness was developed as a direct result of your service to your employer and can be linked to the workplace, you may be entitled to benefits under the LHWCA.

Shipyards are known for carrying hazardous chemicals that, if ingested over long periods of time, can cause breathing deficiencies that require medical treatment. The severity of your breathing problem will depend on the amount of hazardous chemicals and substances in your shipyard as well as the amount of time you spent with them. As a shipyard worker, you are entitled to benefits under maritime law even though your work was not directly on a vessel. If you have developed a breathing problem, it would be best to contact your doctor immediately to ascertain the extent of your illness so that adequate treatment can be applied. Your illness may be mild, but it could also be severe. Your employer is obligated to pay your medical bills if your illness can be connected to your work at your shipyard workplace. Ask your employer if you are unsure whether you can be covered.

Longshoring Is Dangerous, But That Doesn't Excuse Accidents

Working as a longshoreman can be dangerous if equipment malfunctions, safety regulations are overlooked, or if any person involved in the work is inexperienced or careless. This is strategic and physical work that involves high-traffic areas and heavy machinery. Even though working as a longshoreman may have inherent risks, you still have rights. These rights are even more important because of the nature of your work.

As a longshoreman:

  • You have the right to benefits for medical care and lost earnings without having to prove negligence or fault.
  • You have the right to report a work injury and seek benefits without facing punishment from your employer.
  • You have the right to file a lawsuit if a third party was responsible for your longshore accident, to seek additional damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.

Make sure your rights are protected to the fullest by involving a longshore injury lawyer at Arnold & Itkin.

Types of Longshore Injuries

Longshoremen are at risk of catastrophic injury when equipment malfunctions or their employers are negligent. This may include brain and spinal cord injuries, loss of limb, broken bones, internal organ damage, severe burns, crush injuries, and near-drowning. Some of these injuries leave lasting physical and emotional scars. Some claim longshoremen’s lives. At Arnold & Itkin, we’re passionate about setting things right for injured longshoremen and their families. We assert our clients’ rights to the fullest extent of the law.

Our Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation attorneys help after incidents such as:

Seeking Compensation as an Injured Longshore Worker

If you were injured while working as a longshoreman, you may be entitled to compensation in various ways. You may be able to file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides benefits regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Maritime and personal injury laws may also apply to your case, which would help you pursue financial compensation for economic and non-economic damages for longshore injuries caused by negligence, intentional misconduct, or defective products/equipment. The right approach will maximize your recovery and help you begin to rebuild your life.

Arnold & Itkin's maritime attorneys are leaders in the field. We've recovered billions for our clients and hold record-setting verdicts and settlements for maritime employees.

The LHWCA does not grant automatic compensation, but we can help. If you have any questions about the LHWCA or need help after any type of maritime accident, call Arnold & Itkin today.

Call Our Longshore Injury Lawyers for a Free Case Review: (888) 493-1629

Longshoremen and harbor workers who have been injured are capable of recovering medical and disability payments under the LHWCA, as well as compensation for rehabilitation services and other situational costs. However, filing a claim and receiving the full amount of compensation available is not easily accomplished. You need an experienced lawyer who is committed to fighting for your rights regardless of the circumstances. At Arnold & Itkin, we proudly help clients nationwide from Dallas to Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi to Lafayette, and beyond.

Call (888) 493-1629 to talk to our longshore injury attorneys about the LHWCA and your potential claim. We're here to help you secure the best future by fighting for the best results.

Common Questions

  • Who Is Covered by the LHWCA?

    The LHWCA covers numerous offshore and maritime occupations including harbor workers, shipbuilders, ship repairers, and longshore workers.

    For an employee to be covered by the LHWCA, he or she must be injured in a location outlined under the list mentioned above. A non-traditional employee may be covered under the LHWCA if injured on navigable waters.

  • Who Is Covered Under LHWCA Extensions?

    The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) has been extended to incorporate specific beneficiaries. The Defense Base Act (DBA) notably includes private employees situated on U.S. military bases, contractors engaged in public work contracts for the U.S. overseas, those vending military provisions to U.S. allies, and maritime personnel supporting the Armed Services outside the U.S. Meanwhile, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) caters to those working on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, predominantly in roles related to natural resource exploration, such as offshore drillers. Lastly, the Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (NAFIA) encompasses individuals who bolster the nonappropriated fund branches of the Armed Forces, roles which may range from counselors to motivational speakers aiding in the morale and wellness of military personnel.

  • Who Is Excluded from the LHWCA?

    Seamen, government employees, intoxicated employees, employees who harm themselves, and various workers covered under state workers’ compensation law are excluded from the LHWCA.
  • How Does the Jones Act Differ from the LHWCA?

    The Jones Act and the LHWCA accomplish the same goal: workers’ compensation for a group of workers. However, the outlined group of employees differ between the two acts. Under the LHWCA, maritime workers who do not “directly aid in the function or mission of a sea vessel” are covered. The Jones Act covers employees who “directly aid in the function or mission of a sea vessel.”
  • Who Upholds the LHWCA?

    The Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP) carries out declarations of workers’ compensation cases among employees covered by the LHWCA. In scenarios where claims are denied, LHWCA attorneys who try cases, such as those on our team, can help a claimant seek compensation.
  • Am I Automatically Covered by the LHWCA as a Maritime Employee?

    While you will be covered by the LHWCA automatically as an employee that meets the LHWCA requirements for coverage, you are not guaranteed compensation under the LHWCA. If you sustain an injury while working in LHWCA conditions, you will have to file with the OWCP. OWCP can deny your claim, or your employer can contest it. For these reasons, it is important that you have an LHWCA law firm behind you should your claim be denied.
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