The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides medical coverage for longshoremen employed on navigable waters in the U.S. The act was written to meet the needs of longshoremen working in states where workers’ compensation did not apply or was not available to longshoremen. Amended by Congress in 1984, the act now applies to all maritime workers who work in and around navigable waters and piers in jobs related to maritime activity. Unlike the Jones Act, the Longshore Act does not apply to seamen.
Who Is Covered
- Crane operators
- Dock construction workers
- Employees loading and unloading cargo
- Oil-production fixed-platform workers
- Ship repairers
- Workers disassembling ships
Coverage under the act includes medical and disability benefits. Not only are injuries covered but also illnesses caused by certain jobs. Maritime workers and longshoremen exposed to toxic chemicals in the course of their job may claim benefits for chronic conditions caused by illnesses linked to toxic exposure.
Under the Longshore Act, injured workers may recover medical costs, lost wages and other compensation for costs associated with on-the-job injuries. Eligible maritime workers must notify their employer within 30 days of the injury in order to claim benefits under the act. Because the act is a federal law, injured workers are required to file a claim for benefits with the Labor Department within one year of their injury.
Additionally, under the terms of the act, injured workers may pursue damages against negligent third parties (persons or parties other than the employer or co-worker) responsible for causing their injuries.
While it is not necessary to establish fault or negligence on the part of an employer to receive benefits under the act, an employer can dispute a claim. Should an employer reject an employee’s claim, mediation is required. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement, a Labor Department administrative law judge will hold a hearing and determine a binding decision.