Transportation is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, but it also offers many blue-collar workers a competitive wage. Those who transport goods and materials over land are at high risk of injuries on the job, as are those involved with water-based transportation systems.
Transportation over the oceans and the navigable waterways in the United States are crucial to the modern economy. Ships moving along rivers help deliver goods and products domestically, while ocean-based transportation is a crucial part of international trade.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of risk to the employees that help load and maintain vessels, as well as those who operate the vessels or maintain domestic harbors. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a crucial federal law that helps protect the rights of those who work in the transportation industry, specifically those involved in maritime or waterway transportation services.
You don’t need to be on the ocean or an ocean-based vessel to qualify
You don’t actually have to go out to sea to qualify for benefits under the LHWCA. Longshoremen typically load and unload vessels. You may spend all of your time on dry land except for when you take goods or materials onto a vessel.
By virtue of working at a harbor or helping to load vessels, you are eligible for compensation under the LHWCA rather than Louisiana’s workers’ compensation program. In fact, these protections apply to those loading vessels that will never leave the United States, as the Mississippi River is a navigable waterway subject to the LHWCA.
Typically, whether you get hurt on the vessel itself or while loading something onto machinery back on land, you will need to pursue a claim under the LHWCA rather than the workers’ compensation coverage for the company that employs you.
It is of the utmost importance that injured workers or the surviving family members of those who died on the job understand what forms of compensation are available. Getting compensation as a longshoreman can be complex. Despite a federal law that is almost a century old at this point, it can still be an uphill battle to get compensation for your injuries as a longshoreman. Learning more about the LHWCA will make your claim easier to manage.