The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act was passed in 1927 to offer maritime workers compensation when they suffer injuries while on the job. At the time of its passing, such employees were struggling to collect workers' comp benefits offered under state laws. Over the years, the LHWCA has been amended to ensure those who really qualify for the benefits receive them. Some maritime workers in Louisiana may find they are excluded from collecting LHWCA benefits, however.
Before getting into who can and cannot collect these benefits, it's important to understand what the LHWCA actually covers. Currently, it provides for the losses of those who have suffered temporary or permanent disabilities while on the job or the losses suffered by the family members of employees who died as a result of job-related injuries. Such damages may include:
- Cost of treatment
- Treatment-related travel expenses
- Job training
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
In order to qualify for LHWCA benefits, one's job must include maritime duties. These duties must involve a certain level of risk, and one's place of work must be next to, on or near navigable waters. By this description, it would seem anyone who works on or near the water could benefit from these benefits. Unfortunately, the following individuals -- among a few others -- are excluded from claiming LHWCA benefits:
- Office workers
- Certain marina employees
- Aquaculture workers
- Employees of seaside restaurants, camps stores or clubs
- Ship captains
- Crew members
The LHWCA offers benefits that are considered more generous than standard workers' compensation benefits. As a result, the powers that be are not quick to hand them out to whomever believes that they qualify. Maritime workers in Louisiana who think that they are eligible for LHWCA benefits but are struggling to gain access to them can turn to legal counsel for assistance fighting for relief. If, for some reason, LHWCA protections do not apply to one's case, it may be possible to seek compensation through the state's workers' comp fund.