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What Is the Longshore Act (LHWCA) in Texas?

When you suffer injuries on the job, you may receive benefits through workers’ compensation from your employer. Usually, this compensation covers medical costs, lost wages, and certain additional expenses related to your injury and illness. Certain industries have special forms of workers’ compensation, and the maritime industry is no exception. Offshore maritime workers receive coverage through the Jones Act and longshoremen and harbor workers receive coverage from the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

LHWCA provides specialized workers’ compensation coverage to maritime workers not covered under the Jones Act. To receive Jones Act coverage, a maritime worker must prove that he or she has seaman status. However, not all maritime workers qualify for these benefits. To fill this gap, LHWCA provides coverage to over 500,000 workers in the following positions.

  • Workers on docks and harbors
  • Workers who suffer injuries in navigable waters of the United States
  • Workers in certain maritime occupations, such as longshoremen, ship builders, and ship repairers
  • Workers injured in areas used for loading, unloading, building, and repairing certain vessels

If you receive Jones Act coverage, you cannot receive LHWCA coverage. You may also be exempt from LHWCA coverage if you receive state coverage. Speaking to a workers’ compensation or maritime attorney can help you determine what coverage you are eligible for.

What Benefits Does LHWCA Provide?

If you receive coverage under LHWCA, you are eligible for certain benefits to help you recover after a workplace injury. Like all workers’ compensation insurance requirements, you must directly tie your injury or illness to your workplace activities to receive the following benefits.

  • All reasonable and required medical expenses to treat your injury or illness
  • Expenses related to vocational rehabilitation after your injury or illness
  • Compensation for permanent disabilities and impairments due to the injury or illness
  • Compensation for lost income equal to two-thirds of average weekly wages for the length of your recovery from the injury or illness
  • Death benefits in the amount of 50% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage, payable to the deceased’s spouse and/or surviving children

How to File for LHWCA Benefits

To receive coverage for work-related injuries or illnesses under LHWCA, you must notify your employer of your condition within 30 days after the accident happened or you discover your illness. After you inform your employer, he or she must file a formal LHWCA claim so that you can receive benefits. If your employer does not file your LHWCA claim in a timely manner, he or she can face penalties.

Benefits of a Maritime Attorney for Your LHWCA Claim

Filing a LHWCA claim can be a difficult and stressful process. Your attorney will need to prove the validity of your injuries, prove that your work functions caused the injury, and prove your need for benefits. Receiving compensation lower than what you need to recover can set you back hundreds and even thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages.

A maritime attorney can help guide you through the LHWCA process and assist you in receiving the benefits you need. If your employer fails to file your LHWCA claim in a timely manner, causing you to lose benefits, your attorney can help you pursue legal action as well. A maritime lawyer can provide multiple benefits for your LHWCA claim.

  • The time, skills, and resources necessary to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of your injury or illness
  • An in-depth knowledge of maritime law, including LHWCA eligibility and benefits
  • Experience guiding maritime workers through the LHWCA claims process
  • A network of medical experts to consult on your injury or illness

If you experience issues with your LHWCA claim, contact a maritime attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and pursue your compensation.