Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Frequently Asked Questions

The U.S. has long had a philosophy of compensating workers who have been injured on the job. Every state has its own workers’ compensation programs to protect land-based workers. There are similar protections for marine-based work. Rather than traditional workers’ compensation, a series of laws that provide similar benefits to marine workers apply. These have developed over time and different laws provide different benefits depending on the type of marine work involved.

The following provides some answers to frequently asked questions to help maritime workers understand their rights. This serves as a basic guide and is not meant to be comprehensive or a substitute for legal representation.

What type of work is covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers employees injured on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas typically used for loading and unloading vessels. Adjoining areas include piers, docks, terminals, and wharves. The nature of this work includes longshore work, shipbuilding, ship repair, ship-breaking, and harbor construction.

Are any marine workers excluded?

The LHWCA specifically excludes seamen, meaning members of a crew of a marine vessel and masters of the crew. A seaman spends at least 30 percent of their time on a vessel as part of their work and must be assigned to work on a vessel or fleet. Their duties must contribute to the function of a vessel. These workers are covered by another law called the Jones Act.

The LHWCA also excludes workers who build, repair, or dismantle smaller recreational vessels. The U.S. Department of Labor also excludes some small vessel workers whom it exempts by certification. Also excluded from coverage are government employees and employees injured due to their own misconduct, including intoxication or willfully hurting themselves or others.

Are any additional workers covered?

Additional protections have been added to the law over the years. Additional types of employment have been added in what are called “extensions.” These laws entitle more marine-based workers to benefits and include:

  • Defense Base Act
  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
  • Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act

In addition, certain non-marine employees may be covered if their work is performed on navigable water and they are injured there.

What compensation is available through the LHWCA?

Reasonable and necessary medical treatment and supplies are generally covered, provided the employer or insurance claim adjuster authorizes the care. The fees will be paid up to the customary rate in the area.

Other benefits are determined by the type and duration of injury. Generally, someone temporarily unable to work will receive approximately two-thirds of their average weekly wage subject to certain maximum and minimum rates while they recover.

Permanent disability benefits are also available. If the injury results in total disability, meaning the person is unable to work, then compensation is paid at two-thirds of the average weekly wage. If the injury results in partial disability or loss of function, then permanent partial disability payments will be made based on a published schedule.

Death of a covered marine worker entitles the surviving family to death benefits. This includes benefits for the widow or widower and any children.

Cape May Maritime Injury Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Successfully Handle Claims Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, contact an experienced Cape May maritime injury lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. We understand maritime law and look forward to helping you obtain the benefits to which you are entitled. Call 888-999-1962 or submit an online contact form. We serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the areas of Cape May, Gloucester, and Wildwood from our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia. We also have offices in Pinehurst to assist clients in North Carolina.