Louisianians who work on ships sometimes suffer serious injuries in accidents. Workers who work in harbors and onshore in jobs that support the ships are also sometimes seriously injured in accidents. These harbor and onshore workers are generally covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act instead of the state's workers' compensation law.
Under the LHWCA, injured workers may recover their medical expenses from third-party tortfeasors when they are injured in workplace accidents. There has been a question about whether the amounts that they could recover were the medical expenses that were billed or the amounts that were actually paid through their LHWCA coverage. In late 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit addressed this question in an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
In the case, the injured victim filed a claim against a third-party tortfeasor for the medical expenses that had been billed. The workers' compensation coverage under the LHWCA had only paid a fraction of the amount. The lower court ruled that the injured party could recover the billed amounts rather than the amounts that were actually paid. The 5th Circuit overruled the lower court's decision, holding that the victim could only recover the actual costs rather than the billed costs.
Injured dock workers may seek compensation under the LHWCA through their employers. If there are third-party tortfeasors who caused their accidents, they may file separate lawsuits against those parties for their negligent actions. The ability to file third-party claims may help the victims to recover more damages than the compensation that they might receive under the LHWCA. Experienced personal injury lawyers may review the facts and circumstances in order to identify the potential parties to name as third-party defendants. They may also help their clients with their LHWCA claims.