Working in the maritime transportation industry can be a lucrative career, but it is certainly not without its risks. Those who work on the navigable waterways around the United States or on the piers, docks, wharves and terminals adjoining them could easily suffer career-ending injuries on the job.
After all, they work in unpredictable conditions with some of the biggest machinery around. Whether you fix vessels, maintain the harbor or help load and unload freight, you are at constant risk of getting hurt on the job.
If you do, you will not have the option of making a straightforward workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you will have to make a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). What steps do you need to take to properly protect yourself?
Report the incident to your employer as soon as possible
Obtaining benefits means that you have to follow certain rules, including the mandated reporting of a workplace injury or a diagnosis with a work-related illness. You have to fill out a specific form to document your condition and submit it to your employer.
Those hurt in a traumatic incident typically have 30 days from the date of injury to make a report to their employer unless they experience persistent incapacitation that prevents them from meeting that deadline. Those who have a medical condition diagnosed by a doctor have up to a year to report their occupational disease and obtain benefits.
You may need to appeal a denied claim
When someone who qualifies for benefits under the LHWCA reports their injury to their employer, they enter the claim stage of the process. Many insurance companies that provide coverage for maritime businesses will automatically approve coverage for those who report an injury.
If you don’t get benefits, you may need to fill out a special form called the Longshoreman Claim. After submitting that claim to the workers’ compensation program, you may have to have an informal conference, possibly followed by a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
Retaining as much evidence as possible about your condition and the work situation that contributed to it will help you secure benefits even if your employer and their insurance provider aren’t helpful. Navigating an injury that requires compensation under the LHWCA requires patience and compliance with the rules for injured workers.