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The Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

On Behalf of | May 31, 2023 | Longshore Act

When covered New York employees are injured in on-the-job accidents, they usually receive benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation program. However, workers in some specialized fields are protected by federal rather than state laws. For many maritime workers, that federal law is the 1927 Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The LHWCA is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, and it provides medical benefits, lost wages compensation and vocational rehabilitation to maritime workers not covered by the Jones Act.

LHWCA Benefits

Workers covered by the LHWCA receive benefits if they suffer permanent or temporary total or partial disabilities. The benefits cover all necessary medical treatments and a portion of an injured worker’s lost wages. In most situations, workers receive about two-thirds of their average pre-injury wage. If an injury prevents a maritime worker from returning to their job, the LHWCA covers the cost of job training. Workers covered by the LHWCA include:

  • Longshoremen who are injured while loading, unloading or transporting bulk maritime cargo
  • Shipbuilders who suffer injuries in shipyards and ship maintenance facilities
  • Construction workers who are injures while building marine structures like bulkheads, piers and bridges
  • Civilian workers who suffer injuries or become ill in war zones

Status and situs tests

Only maritime workers who pass status and situs tests are eligible to receive benefits under the LHWCA. Injured workers pass the LHWCA’s status test if at least some of their daily activities are related to maritime activities, and they pass the federal law’s situs test if they work on, beside or near navigable waters. Injured workers can pass both tests even if they work a mile from navigable water if their jobs involve building, repairing, loading or unloading maritime vessels. When maritime worker injuries are not covered by the LHWCA, workers can usually apply for state workers’ compensation benefits.

Complex patchwork of laws

Most workers in the United States are entitled to compensation if they are injured in on-the-job accidents, but determining which law covers them is not always easy. Most workers in New York are covered by the workers’ compensation program, but maritime workers are usually covered by the LHWCA. However, the LHWCA only covers workers who face an increased risk of injury, so employees with safe jobs like office workers must file workers’ compensation claims if they become ill or suffer injuries while at work.