Understanding the Jones Act and
Your Legal Rights
Understanding the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
If you are a longshoreman, harbor worker, or shipbuilder who suffered a serious injury or developed a disease while on the job, you may be able to pursue financial compensation through the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This is a federal law providing for the payment of compensation for disability, death or occupational disease suffered by workers who spend their days on navigable waters in the United States.
How the LHWCA is Different from Workers’ Compensation
The LHWCA differs greatly from state-based workers’ compensation laws. For example, a claim filed pursuant to the Longshore Act involves the U.S. Department of Labor and a formal hearing process with the Office of
Administrative Law Judge. A state workers’ compensation claim typically involves only the state workers’
Injuries Covered by the Longshore Act
To have a viable claim under the LHWCA, you injury must have occurred during the course of employment. This means you must have been hurt while working to have a viable claim. You cannot file a claim under the LHWCA if you slipped and fell at home. The same requirement is needed for an occupational disease claim. Your disease must have arisen from exposure to substances during the course of your employment.
The Clock is Ticking – Notice Needed
If you get injured while working on a sea vessel, at a sea port, etc. you do not have a lot of time to wait before taking legal action. In fact, you must provide written notice to your employer, and the Department of Labor,
of the injury within 30 days of the date of accident.
Statute of Limitations – You Do Not Have Forever to File a Claim
You must file a claim with the Office of the District Director within one year of the date of the accident that caused your injury or death of a loved one. If, on the other hand, you were diagnosed with an occupational disease, the period for filing a claim extends to two years and does not begin running until you become aware of the
relationship between your employment and the disease.
Compensation benefits under the LHWCA are based upon your “average weekly wage” (AWW). Your AWW does not include fringe benefits such as IRAs, pension funds, etc. A calculation will be made to determine your AWW and how long you have been, and will be, out of work. But keep in mind, if you are determined to be totally disabled (i.e. unable to perform your prior employment), the LHWCA provides a statutory maximum and minimum amount of compensation. The statutory minimum compensation for total disability is 50 percent of a national average weekly wage while the statutory maximum compensation for disability is 200 percent of a national average
How a Longshore Act Lawyer is Paid
You may be able to get legal representation at no cost. This occurs if your employer refuses to compensate you for medical treatment within 30 days of receiving written notice of your claim and you are forced to hire an attorney. In this scenario, your employer and their insurance carrier becomes liable for paying your attorney’s fees. This is another big distinction from state workers’ compensation claims. In a contested case, your employer and their insurance carrier is responsible for paying your attorney’s fees. This liability does not arise in workers’
Contact an Experienced Florida Longshore Act Lawyer Today
If you are a harbor worker or crew member who suffered a serious injury, you may be entitled to financial
compensation. The Law Firm of Kevin A. Moore is here to help. Attorney Moore focuses on integrity, service and results in every case his firm handles. Contact the office today for a free, confidential consultation.