Those who work in the maritime industry face extreme dangers, but some of the most dangerous maritime jobs aren’t even performed on the water. Longshoremen and harbor workers face hazardous conditions every day, often leading to serious illnesses and injuries including burns, fractures, infections, loss of limbs, and more.
Most land-based employees in Louisiana who are injured on the job are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system. However, if you work on, over, or near one of New Orleans’s many navigable waterways and are injured in a maritime accident, you may not be covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system. Instead, you may be covered by the federal Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act).
The Longshore Act differs significantly from state workers’ compensation laws in many respects. That is why it is important that you contact a New Orleans maritime lawyer versed and experienced in Longshore Act claims to help you navigate this important federal workers’ compensation statute.
What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Longshore Act is a federal statute that provides no-fault workers’ compensation benefits to longshoremen, harbor workers, and other maritime workers engaged in activities on, near, or adjacent to navigable waterways of the United States.
If an eligible worker was injured on the job or became ill because of their job, they are entitled to benefits regardless of fault. That means an injured maritime worker does not need to sue their employer or show that their employer did anything wrong to get benefits.
What Benefits Are Available to Injured Maritime Workers Under the Longshore Act?
Under the Longshore Act, eligible workers are entitled to full medical care with a doctor of their choice. They are also entitled to compensation for temporary and permanent disability.
Temporary disability benefits are payable when the injured worker is off work while recovering from their work-related injury or illness. The compensation rate under the Longshore Act is two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, which is calculated based on their gross or pre-tax earnings.
If the injured worker does not recover completely, they may also be entitled to permanent disability benefits to compensate for any loss in earning capacity. Furthermore, eligible workers are entitled to vocational rehabilitation services as needed.
Who Is Eligible Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
Whether an injured maritime worker is eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act depends on their “status” and “situs” at the time of the injury.
Status refers to the nature of the work performed by the worker. To be eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act, a maritime worker must be an employee performing traditional longshore duties or work in support of maritime activities.
Workers who are typically eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act include employees in traditional maritime occupations such as longshore workers, ship repairmen, shipbuilders, shipbreakers, and harbor construction workers. Some non-maritime workers not covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system may be eligible as well.
Situs refers to the location of the work performed by the worker. To be eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act, a maritime worker must have suffered their injury or become ill while employed on, near or adjacent to a navigable waterway of the United States, such as on a ship, dock, pier, wharf, or cargo terminal.
Examples of navigable waterways around New Orleans include:
- The Mississippi River and Outlets at Venice
- The Calcasieu River Ship Channel
- The Atchafalaya River Delta; and
- The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Mississippi and Texas
A worker may also be eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act if they are a civilian working at a military base or a government contractor working overseas. Extensions to the Longshore Act such as the Defense Base Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Non-appropriated Funds Instrumentality’s Act provide coverage to hundreds of thousands of civilian contractors both stateside and around the globe.
Who is Not Eligible for Benefits Under the Longshore Act?
Some workers employed in the maritime industry are expressly excluded from coverage under the Longshore Act. Some examples include:
- Workers who exclusively perform office, secretarial, or security work
- Workers employed by camps, recreational facilities, restaurants, museums, and retail outlets
- Marina workers who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina (except for routine maintenance)
- Aquaculture workers
- Workers employed to load, unload, or repair small vessels under 18 tons
- Captains and crew members of any vessel, who are typically covered under the Jones Act
How a New Orleans Maritime Lawyer Can Help
Maritime employers in New Orleans are supposed to voluntarily provide eligible workers with the benefits they are entitled to receive under the Longshore Act. When they don’t, an injured maritime worker may need the assistance of a skilled maritime lawyer in New Orleans who can help them file a claim and enforce their rights under the law.
Our New Orleans personal injury lawyers handle Longshore Act claims on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay us any litigation costs or attorney’s fees upfront. What’s more, if we are successful in recovering benefits for you, your employer can be ordered to pay all of our attorney’s fees, leaving you with nothing to pay for our services.
Contact Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured while working on a ship, dock, pier, wharf, or cargo terminal in New Orleans, you may be entitled to benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Contact our New Orleans office today to arrange a free consultation with a maritime lawyer that you can rely on.
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