What is 'Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act'?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that gives medical and other benefits to certain maritime employees. The LHWCA covers longshoremen, harbor workers, and many other maritime employees. Other employees include those who load and unload ships, truck drivers who haul shipping containers away from the docks and also civilian employees on military bases as part of the Defense Base Act.

Workers who have temporary or permanent, partial or total disabilities, may be entitled to Workers compensation for injuries, illnesses and death.

The LHWCA also provides for payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes, or contributes to, the employee's death. These benefits are typically paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance company on the employer's behalf.

The LHWCA Has Been Extended to Other Areas of Federal Employment/ Contracting

DBA: Defense Base Act

The DBA extends the LHWCA workers' compensation rights to employees as civilian contractors/ public works contractors and private contractors working on or at any military, naval, or air force base overseas or in U.S. territories or U.S. occupied land, and overseas military, naval, or air force bases. Also included are public/ private construction contractors, engineers, securities agents, welfare and aid distributors and defense specialists working anywhere in the world (not just U.S. territories/ bases) if they are working on a contract for the US Government at time of injury.

DBA benefits apply to foreign nationals who are contracted by the U.S. and can cover Military duties like security, weapons contractors, etc.

Injuries can include: 

  • Transportation/vehicle accidents on, to, or from any US base or territory.
  • Equipment or machinery injuries.
  • Construction injuries.
  • Injuries or illness arising from chemical exposure.

o    Breathing in the dust, fumes, and other toxic substances of war zones or other defense projects overseas has had serious results on health.

NAFIA: Non-Appropriated Funds Instrumentalities ACT

NAF employees are federal employees; however, they are not paid through congressionally appropriated funds. Non-Appropriated Funds are self-generated through employment programs benefitting Department of Defense programs, veterans, and their families through raising revenue and boosting morale. Common examples include military membership clubs, recreation centers, preschools and day-cares, fitness centers, youth centers, etc.

There are two types of NAF positions: "flexible" and "regular". Flexible employees work schedules depend on the needs of the activity, 0-40 hours a week, regular employees work between 20-40 hours a week and are entitled to federal employee benefits. Both flexible and regular NAF employees may be entitled to workers compensation under the LHWCA. 

In addition, the LHWCA covers certain employees who work on oil rigs and other offshore facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf. Per the OWCP, the LHWCA covers:

  • Harbor construction workers
  • Longshore worker
  • Ship repairers
  • Ship builders
  • Ship breakers
  • Waterfront crane operators

Injured maritime workers must meet status and situs tests to qualify for LHWCA benefits.  The status test states that at least part of the injured worker's duties must be related to maritime duties. The situs test asserts that the employee must work on, near, or next to navigable waters.  Eligible locations include any area that is utilized for loading, unloading, building, repairing, or dismantling a maritime vehicle, even if this area is up to a mile away from the water's edge. (Note: Workers not meeting the criteria may still be eligible for state worker's compensation benefits, however, these state benefits are frequently less generous than LHWCA benefits).

The LHWCA does not apply to all maritime workers. Its scope of coverage is limited and excludes various groups of marine-related employees, including:

  • Seamen (crew members and masters of any vessel)
  • U.S. Government employees
  • Employees who deliberately injured themselves or others
  • Employees of any foreign government
  • Employees who were injured because they were intoxicated

The LHWCA also excludes certain employees if they are already covered by state workers' compensation plans. These workers include:

  • Individuals employed exclusively to carry out office clerical, secretarial, data processing, or security tasks
  • Temporary workers in a maritime company
  • Employees of transporters, suppliers, or vendors
  • Employees of camps, restaurants, clubs, museums, retail stores, or recreational operations
  • Aquaculture workers
  • Marina employees who do not participate in constructing, replacing, or expanding such marina
  • Workers hired to build, repair, or dismantle recreational vessels less than 65 feet in length or have displacements less than 18 tons net
  • Workers on small vessels exempted by a certificate from the Secretary of Labor under certain circumstances

Federal Employees Compensation Claims

A special law provides benefits for employees of the federal government. This is called the Federal Workers Compensation Act. It is administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWCP).

Some injuries can lead to permanent disabilities, however not all injuries are permanent.  As a result, you may be entitled to payment for a partial impairment.  Partial impairment results in an incapacity that prevents an employee from doing their job. Medical evidence will determine the extent of your temporary as well as permanent disability. The value of your claim depends in large part, on the extent of your injury and the cause.

Our qualified personal injury attorneys can advise you on your rights and help you obtain the maximum compensation available under the law.

If you have been significantly injured or lost time from work as the result of a maritime related injury, our experienced work injury lawyers want to hear your story. At Hill & Moin, our experienced personal injury attorneys will review the facts and assist you with your case from beginning to end. We know how to investigate and aggressively pursue job accident cases related to the 'Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act' (LHWCA).

You have the right to receive proper compensation for the injuries sustained from a workplace related injury! You may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering in addition to workers compensation benefits.

Don't wonder about your rights.

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