What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act?

Many Louisiana residents work on the state’s waterways. As is the case in any other profession, certain risks and dangers are associated with the job. However, those who work on our nation’s navigable waterways are not covered under traditional worker’s compensation programs. Instead, the federal government passed the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act.

The Act — which is administered the U.S. Department of Labor — provides benefits for medical care and lost income to those individuals who suffer on-the-job injuries and the families of a qualified worker who die as a result of such injuries. Qualified employees are those who work either full or part-time in maritime occupations such as longshoremen and harbor workers. It should be noted that an illness or disease contracting because of the injured party’s work is also covered under the Act.

One of the hallmarks of the Act is that an injured worker may obtain medical treatment from any physician he or she chooses. However, the U.S. Department of Labor maintains a list of medical practitioners who are for various reasons not authorized to provide care under the Act. Many types of disability payments are also available depending on the circumstances.

In the case of death, the surviving spouse, if any, is entitled to half of the worker’s weekly pay until he or she remarries or for life. Children are also entitled to a lower percentage of that pay unless there is no surviving spouse, in which case a child may receive that 50 percent. If multiple children qualify for benefits, they share equally in 66 and two-thirds percent. A $3,000 maximum is paid for funeral and burial costs.

The information about the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act provided herein is simply a general outline of who can receive benefits, what those benefits are and the amount of some of those benefits. Further information can be obtained from someone knowledgeable in the area of maritime injury or death claims here in Louisiana. This article is no substitute for obtaining legal advice on the subject matter.