As a maritime employee, you’re probably aware of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which is a federal law providing invaluable coverage to workers in your oftentimes hazardous career line. The act provides a process for you to make your claim and get financial compensation for your hardship. It covers a variety of work-related injuries and occupational diseases.
If you’ve caught a harmful or debilitating disease as a result of your maritime service, you’re probably eagerly wondering if you might qualify to receive compensation under the LHWCA. The government defines occupational disease as “an illness or medical condition which develops as a result of exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace.” These can include pulmonary diseases, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, asthma, skin ailments and diseases affecting your auto-immune system. Harmful substances include asbestos and other chemicals or elements of industrial processes used on ships and in harbors.
Difficultly enough, many occupational diseases that later result in disability aren’t noticeable until long after the hazardous exposure in your workplace happened. Thankfully, even if it’s been years or even if you’re retired, you may still be eligible to receive compensation and medical benefits for your condition if it’s indeed stemming from your on-the-job exposure. If you’re disabled due to occupational disease, you have two years to file your claim for compensation, and the clock starts ticking from the day you first become aware of the connection between your disease and job. However, there is no time limit regarding your eligibility for medical benefits.
Tell your employer you have a disease related to your occupation, just like you would if you suffered an injury at work. Then you can file an official claim. You should also seek a doctor’s help in writing a medical report to describe how your disease was caused by your working conditions and give it to both your employer and the U.S. Office of Workers’ Compensation.
Help with the legal hurdles
You’ll face challenges and complexity in the legal process in your pursuit of compensation. Getting advice from an attorney who’s experienced in fighting on behalf of longshoremen and other maritime employees in illness and injury cases like yours can be a huge help and can take some of the burden off your shoulders.