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Why is there a Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

| Jun 15, 2021 | Longshore And Harbor Workers' Compensation Act |

Transportation responsibilities are among the most dangerous tasks a professional can have. Many goods require transportation on the navigable waterways around the United States. There are tens of thousands of longshore and harbor workers who help support both coastal infrastructure and domestic trade.

Some of these workers have more risk of getting hurt on the job than people who work similar jobs on the land. At the same time that they have more risk, these employees also have fewer protections because workers’ compensation doesn’t protect them.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) creates a system that helps injured workers employed either at harbors or in offshore locations who get hurt on the job. Offshore and harbor workers may need to file a claim under the LHWCA if they get hurt on the job. Why does the LHWCA exist in the first place?

The history of the LHWCA

Before 1927, there weren’t any systems in place to protect either harbor or longshore workers from workplace medical issues. Although workers with similar responsibilities working on land had had the benefit of workers’ compensation laws since 1917, the location of employment was crucial to receiving benefits.

Since the navigable waters do not fall under the jurisdiction of any one state, lawmakers had to enact federal legislation that protects maritime workers. The LHWCA gives workers hurt on the job and surviving members of those who die at work options for seeking compensation.

Congress enacted a federal law that ensures there are protections and benefits available for workers employed in offshore locations. Decades later, lawmakers revisited the LHWCA and expanded it to include workers employed in spaces adjacent to navigable waterways who help load, unload, repair or build the vessels.

Workers often need help with LHWCA claims

Many injured employees require assistance filing even a basic workers’ compensation claim. When it comes to more complex claims, a positive outcome may necessitate legal representation.

There can be more steps involved in the process when bringing your claim under the LHWCA instead of just filing for workers’ compensation benefits. The better you understand your rights as a worker, the easier it will be for you to navigate the claims process and push for the benefits you need.