If you work somewhere in the U.S.’s navigable waters, then you’re likely covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This federal law allows those who work in traditional maritime occupations, in roles such as ship-breakers, shipbuilders, harbor construction and longshore ones, to receive compensation for medical bills if they suffer a disabling injury.
You may wonder what type of health benefits you’re eligible to receive if you’re injured while working in one of these professions. Some of the medical services described below and vocational rehab are included on the list.
How does the LHWCA define medical care?
LHWCA allows injured maritime workers to receive any “reasonable” medical treatment necessary to treat their injuries, such as:
- Hospital admissions
- Diagnostic testing
- Imaging studies
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
Qualifying workers can also request reimbursement of travel expenses associated with receiving their medical care.
There’s not any cap that limits how long LHWCA-eligible workers can receive benefits. They may do so as long as their medical team deems treatment necessary. Workers must first receive insurance company or employer authorization before seeking non-emergency treatment, though, if they wish to have LHWCA cover it.
Does the LHWCA restrict which medical providers a worker sees?
This federal law doesn’t restrict the physicians an LHWCA-covered worker can see. You do have to request permission from your insurance provider, employer or LHWCA administrator to change from one doctor to another. LHWCA also limits the types of medical providers that can treat covered workers. Chiropractors are okay, whereas naturopaths and faith healers aren’t.
Insurance companies and employers are authorized to ask you to attend random, independent medical examinations once you file an LHWCA claim. Administrators may terminate your benefits if you fail to attend these appointments.
What to do if you were hurt at your maritime job
You should always notify your employer of any injury incident as soon as it happens. This will allow them to tell you about the LHWCA claims process and your right to see a doctor. You may want to do some independent research about LHWCA and the protections it affords you if your employer isn’t forthright.