What Happens if You Have a Dispute About Your LHWCA Claim?
If you are a longshoreman, harbor worker, or someone who works “near” the water but not “on” it— like most people who work on the docks, in shipping terminals or shipyards, if you are injured while at work, you generally (there are exceptions) cannot proceed under your state’s workers’ compensation laws to recover for your injuries. Instead, you may be able to recover for your injuries under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act” or “LHWCA”).
[Note: Because this is a specialized and complicated area of law, you should always consult with maritime counsel where you live.]
What the LHWCA Does
The LHWCA is a federal law that provides compensation for injured maritime workers who meet the law’s specific “tests.” It covers injured shipyard and dock workers, as well as a other “non-seamen” who work on docks and in shipping terminals or shipyards. The LHWCA provides for payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees that are injured or disabled during the course of their employment.
The Act does not just apply to physical injuries, however. For purposes of compensation under the Act, “injury” can also mean occupational illnesses that can arise out of working on the docks or in the shipyards; like mesothelioma from asbestos exposure or hearing loss.
Before it became known just how toxic asbestos is, ships often were laden in it from bow to stern. Asbestos was used in boiler rooms, engine rooms, sleeping quarters, and even mixed in the paint that covered the ships: exposing many employees to deadly toxins.
LHWCA Claims and Disputes
If your employer or the insurer denies your claim, or you take issue with your employer’s actions regarding your LHWCA benefits, your dispute goes to the Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for resolution. Generally, your attorney will request an informal conference with the OWCP district director. OWCP district directors try to resolve any issues between both sides informally if possible. If the matter cannot be resolved informally at the district office level, then it will go to an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to decide.
Helping Injured Shipyard and Dock Workers.
If you have been injured while working in or around the docks or shipyards, contact us ToDay. We are maritime attorneys experienced in handling Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claims. We offer FREE consultations. Our offices are in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 200-0000 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.