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Working near water doesn't guarantee LHWCA coverage

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) helps provide compensation for those who suffer injuries “on the navigable waters of the United States.” For some, it’s easy to understand if they are eligible for this compensation. Those hurt while performing construction on a pier or dock can file a claim quickly.

For others, it might not be as straightforward. Plenty of people operate near “navigable waters” and aren’t involved in shipbuilding or what many would consider traditional maritime occupations.

While these conditions sound like loose terms, the LHWCA does outline who can apply and who cannot. People who misunderstand it could risk delaying the chance to seek coverage elsewhere.

Trouble near the river

Recently, a railroad worker in Virginia was denied coverage from the LHWCA after suffering injuries while working on a bridge that crossed a river. Before this, he tried filing a lawsuit against his employers, but the company claimed the LHWCA could provide compensation since his injury was near navigable waters and that his job could qualify as “maritime employment.”

However, the court determined that because the worker’s injury happened on a bridge that was only accessible by land and that it wasn’t on a shoreside facility that provided crucial help to vessels, it could not qualify for the LHWCA.

Who else cannot apply?

The LHWCA also specifically excludes the following workers:

  • Seamen
  • Marina workers who aren’t involved in construction
  • Government employees
  • Restaurant, museum and retail workers who operate near the water
  • Temporary maritime employees
  • And many more

If you are confused on whether you are eligible to receive coverage from the LHWCA or not, it may be wise to contact an experienced attorney to save you time and money.

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