Getting hurt at work is always an inconvenience. It will typically result in at least a few hours of missed work and a requirement to fill out injury report paperwork. Sometimes, workers will need to seek outside medical care and may require an extended leave of absence because of their injury.
The average worker who gets hurt on the job will be able to file a basic workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation benefits, which operate on a state-by-state basis, can provide health coverage and also indemnity benefits when someone misses work because of an injury or work-acquired illness.
If your job involves loading merchandise or raw materials onto the vessels on the Mississippi river for transportation, you may not have access to workers’ compensation benefits when you get hurt out on the water.
What protects workers helping run harbors?
The Mississippi River and its tributaries are among the navigable waterways of the United States. There are docks and harbors at many points along the river, and they fall under federal protection. Workers whose jobs require that they work near or on the water at a harbor will usually need to make use of federal compensation protections, not state programs.
Instead of making a basic insurance claim with the cooperation of your employer, you will need to pursue compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA offers much of the same coverage available through standard workers’ compensation. It can cover some of your lost wages, pay for your medical treatment and help limit the financial devastation you experience because you get hurt on the job.
What the LHWCA can do for you
The first step toward getting benefits under the LHWCA will involve medical evaluation. You will then need to file an insurance claim, which can be quite complicated. As a dock or shipyard worker, you have protection under the LHWCA, and your employer should have the appropriate corresponding insurance.
You will typically need medical documentation regarding your injuries to initiate the claim. The good news is that with the right support, you will likely be able to settle the matter outside of court instead of litigating. Knowing your protections as a harbor or dock worker can help you make use of the LHWCA if you get hurt on the job.