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Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act protections

Longshoremen and harbor workers in New York and Manhattan are exposed to daily risks and often work under hazardous conditions. Although the pay can be good, workers are often injured from slips and falls, heavy loading, chemical exposures and dangerous machinery.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that fatal injuries among longshoremen and harbor workers were five times higher than the overall U.S. workforce from 2011-2017. In that same time period, injuries to workers in terminals and port operations were double the national workforce average.

Federal protections

The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that protects longshoremen if they are hurt on the navigable waters of the United States. The law provides compensation and medical care for the injured, as well as vocational rehabilitation services for those disabled from accidents that occurred on the job.

The LHWCA also provides survivor benefits for work injuries that caused or contributed to an employee’s death.

There are extensions to the Longshore Act that provide the same benefits to employees working outside of the United States:

  • The Defense Base Act (DBA) covers employers working for private employers for military purposes; for the benefit of the United Services Organizations; for public work contracts with any U.S. government agency including service contracts for national defense or for war activities.
  • The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) covers employees working in the exploration and development of natural resources.
  • The Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (NAFIA) covers civilian employees of the Armed Forces

The LHWCA excludes those workers covered by state worker’s compensation laws as well as seamen, U.S. government employees, and employees whose injuries were due to intoxication or their own willful intention to self-harm or to do harm to others.

Before signing a settlement offer from an insurance company after you have been injured on the job, it is important to contact an experienced maritime attorney to learn more about your rights and to fight for maximum compensation for your injuries. If the injury was caused by defective equipment, a safety violation or negligence of a third party, you may be able to also receive additional compensation through a liability claim.