Maritime workers in Louisiana should understand how the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act can assist them if they are injured on the job. Shipyard workers, longshoremen and some other non-seaman marine workers can use the law to obtain financial assistance for lost wages and medical expenses that resulted from their work-related injury or illness.
The LHWCA is handled by the Division of Longshore Workers' Compensation, which is part of the Office of Workers' Compensation at the United States Department of Labor. An estimated 500,000 injured or disabled maritime employees, including contractors employed by the federal government and those working on the Outer Continental Shelf, receive benefits provided by the LHWCA.
Workers protected by the LHWCA may receive temporary assistance while receiving medical care for injuries that resulted from their job duties. Generally, the benefits are equivalent to two-thirds of a worker's average weekly income. The medical expenses that are covered by the LHWCA include visits to the doctor, prescription medications, crutches, surgery, prostheses and any other medical device or service that is needed for the worker to recover.
After the medical treatment has ended, the workers may be financially compensated for maimed body parts. If they are no longer able to work, they may receive compensation equal to two-thirds of their earning capacity. For maritime workers who die from their work-related injury or illness, their surviving loved ones are eligible for certain benefits.
An attorney who has experience with these types of matters should be consulted when on-the-job injuries or deaths are sustained by workers in a navigable waters accident. The attorney may advise injured workers or surviving family members how the LHWCA may be used to obtain the financial compensation to which they may be entitled.