The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides medical benefits in the event a worker is injured while performing his or her duties at shipyards, vessel terminals and other related marine structures. In order to obtain the benefits under this act, the first step is to file the Notice of Injury with the U.S Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation.
Immediately after the accident
As a first step after an accident, a worker should inform the employer immediately or at the earliest possible opportunity. Next, the worker should get the necessary medical attention as soon as possible. Per the LHWCA, the worker is free to consult any doctor of his or her choice. In addition, the worker needs to fill and submit Form LS-1, which authorizes medical treatment under the LHWCA. However, if there is an emergency, the worker should seek authorization from the employer or its insurance carrier after the treatment.
A worker’s responsibilities under the LHWCA
It is important for a worker to remember that the Notice of Injury must be submitted to the employer within 30 days from the date of injury or within 30 days of date on which the worker became aware of an injury or disability that was a result of his or her employment. To report the injury or the disability, the worker needs to fill and submit Form LS-201.
Also important to keep in mind that failure to report an injury or disability within 30 days can put at risk the entitlement to compensation. However, it will not affect the medical treatment that is necessary to treat the injury. Under certain circumstances, though, the failure to file the Notice of Injury within the stipulated 30-day timeframe may be excused.
In the event that an injury is fatal
If a worker is killed due to an injury, the survivors, or their legal representatives, need to file Form LS-262 within a period of one year from the date of death. The form needs to be submitted along with supporting documents such as marriage and birth certificates, medical records and Form-265, which is the certification for funeral expenses.
Filing the injury or death benefit claim with the OWCP
The injured worker or survivors need to fill several forms (Form LS-201, Form LS-203, Form LS-262) and submit these via fax, through the SEAPortal website, or by mail. Often, this can be a cumbersome task for an injured worker or a bereaved survivor. Therefore, it may be a wise decision to seek professional help in order to obtain benefits under the LHWCA.