How Do LHWCA Claims Work?
Maritime workers who work in and around the navigable waters of the US either building, maintaining, or repairing ships are covered under the LHWCA. Since this is a federal law, injured workers must file a claim through one of 15 nationwide District Offices.
If you qualify for benefits, you could recover the following benefits following a work injury:
- Roughly 2/3 of your lost wages
- Compensation for medical expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation services
- Death benefits for families of fatal accident victims
In some cases, dock workers may be classified as seamen if they spend 30% of their time at sea. These workers would be eligible to apply for compensation in a Jones Act claim, instead of the LHWCA.
Dock work requires daily exposure to a number of inherent risks which could cause an accident and serious injuries. Harsh weather, hazardous work conditions, and defective or poorly maintained machinery can all increase the risk of suffering a serious injury.
Common dock hazards which lead to worker injuries include:
- Slip and fall dangers
- Fires and explosions
- Toxic and chemical exposure
- Falling into water
Many of these accidents can be avoided by properly following safety regulations, but an unexpected accident can happen even in the safest workplaces.
Common Dock And Harbor Injuries
When something goes wrong and an accident occurs at a dock or harbor, workers often suffer serious or even fatal injuries. These injuries frequently require extended periods away from work and expensive medical costs. Additionally, the physically strenuous nature of dock work often leads to repetitive motion injuries due to overworking the same muscle groups over long periods of time.
Common injuries in dock and harbor work accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Lost limbs and amputations
These injuries and any other injury or illness directly related to work conditions are eligible for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Why You Might Need A Lawyer
A maritime work injury claim is more complex than your average workers’ compensation claim. There are numerous laws that may apply, depending on the nature of your employment and your injury. In order to recover the full financial compensation you’re entitled to, it’s often necessary to have the guidance of an experienced lawyer who specializes in maritime law.
In some cases, you may have the option to file a lawsuit in addition to seeking work injury benefits. Workers who are covered under the Jones Act can sue their employers when negligence contributes to an injury, and other workers may have the option to sue negligent third parties (someone other than your co-workers and employer) when they cause a work injury through negligence.
If you’ve recently been injured while working at a dock or harbor and are struggling to make sense of your options, we’d love to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced maritime injury lawyers.
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