Longshore Worker Injuries and Benefits through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The shore side marine trades in Savannah can be extremely physically demanding and hazardous. Working in the maritime trades in shipyards, on docks, or in shipping terminals often involves heavy cargo being lifted and moved with specialized and complicated machinery in a high activity environment where workers and vehicles are in a state of constant activity; and because the work takes place near water, that environment is prone to wet, slippery conditions. In recognition of the dangers of this type of work, the federal government put into place a special insurance program to compensate longshore workers when they are injured or suffer job-related illnesses. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) replaces regular State of Georgia Workers’ Compensation insurance, and usually exceeds the state program in the benefits it offers. Those working in the marine trades can seek The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act benefits; however, the category of workers covered by this law is restrictive, with specific requirements to qualify for the federal benefits.
In Georgia, it is possible, and often prudent, to apply for both LHWCA and state of Georgia Workers’ Compensation benefits following an injury or death on the job in Savannah. Although you cannot receive benefits from both at the same time, if for any reason you are disqualified from federal benefits you will have traditional Workers’ Comp benefits to fall back on. In a case where Workers’ Comp benefits have already been paid, a credit is applied to your employer if you later qualify for LHWCA.
Qualifying for LHWCA Benefits
Eligibility for The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act benefits will hinge primarily of two factors:
• The nature of the work you do, which must be in the on-shore maritime industry, and
• The location of your workplace, which must be within a mile of navigable water or a terminal bordering it.
Cargo handlers, construction workers, and those who build large vessels generally qualify.
Certain categories of workers are specifically excluded and must rely on state benefits if injured: mechanics, aquaculture workers, office workers, U.S. government employees, those who build small vessels, those who work aboard ships, and some others.
You could also be excluded from benefits if you were drunk on the job or if you intentionally caused your own injury.
You will be able to determine if you are potentially a candidate for LHWCA benefits by consulting with a Savannah personal injury attorney who routinely and successfully assists injured maritime workers in obtaining benefits. You can get the information and guidance you need by contacting the Savannah law firm of Roden & Love, LLC.
Dock and Harbor Accident Types
Many accident types are possible in the on-shore maritime industry. These are some of the common ones:
• Vehicular accidents involving forklifts, trucks, and cars
• Slips, trips, and fall accidents
• Electrical accidents caused by improperly installed or maintained wiring.
• Crane and winch accidents
• Hazardous material leaks
• Gangway accidents
• Collapse of poorly maintained docks or piers
• Fires and explosions
• Accidents involving hazardous materials
• Container accidents
• Mooring line accidents
• Falling objects
• Accidents caused by vessels colliding with piers and other boating accidents
Common Injury Types in the On-shore Maritime Industry
These are some of the injury types often seen among longshore workers:
• Back injuries, including sprains, strains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae, often caused by heavy lifting and falls
• Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Burn injuries, often associated with fuel explosions, welding, and electrical accidents
• Respiratory caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, grain dust, and other cargo types
• Amputation injuries including loss of arms, legs, fingers, toes, hands, and feet.
• Internal organ damage and crush injuries
• Industrial hearing loss
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Benefits
Benefits that you may receive under the LHWCA include:
• Lost wages for time off of work because of your accident or injury, up to 66.7percent of your average weekly earnings.
Medical expenses and transportation costs for medical treatment
• Physical therapy
• Vocational rehabilitation
• Temporary and permanent disability benefits
• Protection from retaliation against you by your employer for filing a claim
• Death benefit for families who have lost a member in a dock or harbor accident
Third Party Claims
In some cases where someone other than your employer contributed significantly to your injury, you might be able to increase your total recovery by filing a third-party claim. Third party claims are possible under LHWCA, but are not always worth filing, because your employer will have a lien against your third party recovery for the full amount of benefits they have paid. That said, in some situations, a third party claim may work to your benefit. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if your case is one where making a claim against someone other than your employer may be worthwhile.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
Having the right lawyer to assist you with the process of applying for LHWCA benefits can ensure that all paperwork is filled out with precise accuracy to avoid a delay or denial of benefits. Employers and their insurers may resist paying out benefits on various excuses, often not valid. While the benefits are pretty good, the process can be stressful. Furthermore, if you miss important filing deadlines, you may lose your right to benefits altogether.
An experienced Savannah longshoreman injury attorney, like the lawyers of Roden & Love, LLC, can prevent this from happening, relieve the stress of filing and the pitfalls of filing on your own, assist you in dealing with the insurance adjuster, and see that you get all the benefits that you qualify for. Roden & Love is a top-rated law firm, having earned a perfect 10 AVVO rating by clients and a rating of AV Pre-eminent by our peers in the legal community.
Free Legal Consultation for Injured Maritime Employees
The Savannah, Georgia, law firm of Roden & Love, LLC, offers a free consultation with one of our highly experienced maritime injury attorneys, in which we will advise you as to whether you qualify for LHWCA benefits, and if you do, how to best proceed with your claim. We know the law from every angle, and we are even contributors to the LHWCA scholarship fund! We will handle the paperwork for you, represent you in all negotiations with your employer and their insurance company, and will carefully consider whether you could benefit from any potential third-party claim. We are a client-centered and results oriented law firm, focusing on your needs above all else.
Keep in mind that there are strict time limits for applying, and missing a deadline could mean losing your right to benefits; call Roden & Love today.