If you or a loved one work on the docks in Savannah, you may be wondering what happens if you’re injured on the job. Harbors are busy places with a high potential for injury. Fortunately, the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act protects hardworking individuals who work on the docks. Learn all about the law and how to proceed if you’re injured on the job. If you have been hurt, a specialized Savannah longshoreman injury attorney has the expertise you need for this circumstance.
What Is the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act?
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act is a federal program that provides benefits to maritime employees, both civilian and military in Savannah. The compensation program applies to U.S. employed citizens, but is available worldwide. LHWCA covers harbor workers, longshoremen, and anyone who works on the docks, in shipping terminals, or shipyards.
What Makes LHWCA Different From Georgia’s State Worker’s Compensation Program?
While Georgia has a worker’s compensation benefit program, the LHWCA is generally more advantageous. For example, a state compensation program may only pay out an average of 60% of an employee’s weekly salary in total temporary disability (TTD) benefits, while the LHWCA program pays out 66%. Additionally, recipients of LHWCA are eligible for permanent partial disability benefits, which is not an option to all worker’s compensation programs.
Georgia is known as a “concurrent jurisdiction” state. This means an eligible employee can pursue a state worker’s compensation and LHWCA compensation benefits at the same time.
Who is an “Eligible Worker?”
In the eyes of the law, an eligible worker for LHWCA must pass the “status” and “situs” tests.
The Status Test
The status test involves the nature of work. To qualify for benefits, the worker must be performing “maritime work.” Not all of an employee’s work duties must be maritime, but a significant portion must deal with water or marine transport.
Some employees qualify for benefits by definition. These include longshoremen and people who load and unload vessels, shipbuilders and repair people, and ship-breakers. People who drive the trucks that take shipping containers, as well as those who repair those trucks also pass the “status” test, since they are directly involved in the maritime activities of a business.
Not everyone who works on water passes the status test. Examples of those the law specifically excludes from LHWCA benefits include:
- Shipbuilders of recreational vessels fewer than 65 feet long
- Marina workers who aren’t involved in construction, expansion, or replacement of marina
- Mechanics of recreational vessels
- Fish farm workers
- The captain and crew members of vessels. These employees are protected through separate legislation.
The Situs Test
The second test is the “situs,” or location test. This refers to the location in which an employee generally works for an employer. To be eligible for LHWCA, you must work “on, near, or adjacent to navigable water.” In general, LHWCA judges consider a mile from either a shipyard border or water to be near water, since shipping yards can extend far inland.
What Benefits Can I Receive?
The LHWCA provides comprehensive coverage to injured maritime workers in Savannah, including:
- Permanent total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
In addition, LHWCA may reimburse recipients for medical expenses and offer compensation for transportation to and from all appointments for medical treatment and rehabilitation. If it seems injured employees will be unable to continue their previous job, they will get vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Because the work of longshoremen has specific hazards in Savannah, it makes sense that there are specific protections against those hazards. Longshoreman unions may also offer their assistance to employees in the form of scholarships like the ILA 1414, to which Roden and Love regularly contributes funds. Check with your local union for more information about your options and don’t hesitate to call a Savannah longshoreman injury attorney for additional help.