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Injured maritime workers should know their rights

People who work in the maritime industry have special protections provided to them through the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). This act covers a variety of individuals in the industry, including harbor workers, longshoremen, ship loaders and unloaders, truckers who haul shipping containers from the docks and others.

The act was established because injured maritime workers were unsuccessful in attempts to seek workers' compensation through state courts. Instead of making these workers sue employers and go through that lengthy process, the act was passed in 1927.

Workers in this industry are faced with a variety of hazards that can lead to serious injuries. The protections of this act serve to protect their ability to care for themselves if they're injured. Their medical care, as long as it's reasonable and necessary, is all covered. The travel expenses related to traveling to doctor's visits are covered.

For some workers, their injuries are too great for them to be able to return to their maritime career. When this is the case, the act provides them with retraining, so they can learn something new that will help them to support themselves.

While many employees qualify for coverage under the act, even if they're doing maritime duties up to a mile from shore, there are others who work near the docks who don't qualify. For example, office, museum and shop workers won't qualify because they aren't at an increased risk of suffering a work-related injury.

If you're a maritime worker who suffered an injury at work, be sure you know your rights under this act. Working with an attorney familiar with it might be beneficial, so you can ensure you're receiving the benefits you should.

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