Your Rights as a Longshoreman
If you or a loved one works as a longshoreman, you already know that such workers face risks that simply aren’t present in most other industries. From hand-lifting cargo and operating heavy machinery to working in an environment where weather hazards can be especially severe, life on the docks can hardly be considered easy. Since longshoremen operate under maritime law, it can be confusing to determine what one’s rights are after an accidental injury on the job.
In this article, we’ll talk a bit about who can be considered a longshoreman, what kinds of laws protect these specialized workers, and what your rights are under those laws. We’ll also show you how having the right legal counsel for your injury case can make all the difference.
Who Qualifies as a Longshoreman?
A longshoreman is generally defined as any individual employed to load and unload ships in port. Depending upon the type of cargo a given ship is carrying, a longshoreman might lift crates by hand or use heavy equipment like forklifts and cranes to load and unload assets.
In addition to the moving of cargo, longshoremen may also be tasked with tying shipping containers together (lashing), assisting passengers with luggage on cruise ships, keeping track of manifests, signaling for communications, etc. In essence, teams of longshoremen will do whatever it takes to make sure ships pick up and drop off exactly what they need to while they’re in port.
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is the section of maritime law that specifically covers the legal rights and compensation benefits of longshoremen. The LHWCA also covers the rights of anyone who works in or around the harbor, including shipbuilders and repairmen who work on the docks rather than on the water. This particular act is meant to bridge the gap between the Jones Act and standard worker’s compensation benefits.
In maritime law, the LHWCA is distinct from the Jones Act, which covers the rights of seamen working on a ship in open water. Under the Jones Act, claims are filed with the appropriate court. Under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, claims are filed directly with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Your Rights Under the LHWCA
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act provides you, as a longshoreman, with a set of valuable legal rights intended to protect you in the case of injury or fatality.
- If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to receive compensation to cover medical bills and at least part of your usual income (maintenance and cure, in maritime law).
- Depending upon the details of the claim, you may also have the right to coverage for physical therapy and/or other rehabilitation services.
- If you’ve been injured on the job due to negligence on the part of someone who was not your employer, you are allowed to file a third-party claim for further damages.
- If, in the worst case scenario, you are killed while working as a longshoreman, your family will be entitled to receive compensation benefits to help support them in your absence.
- In all of these cases, you have the inherent right to hire a trusted local maritime lawyer to assist with your case and help you get the best possible outcome.
When you need to claim benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, you have 30 days from the date of injury to notify your employer that you’ve been injured. You must also file your LHWCA claim within a year from the date of your injury in order to receive benefits. Your employer will have 14 days from the date of notice to either begin paying your benefits voluntarily or dispute your claim.
The Benefits of Legal Counsel in an LHWCA Case
As with any other type of claim, the benefits of having a strong legal representative on your side cannot be understated. An experienced local maritime attorney will not only have an intimate knowledge of your rights as outlined by the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, but will also know exactly how to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A good maritime law attorney will be able to help you with various aspects of your case, such as the following:
- Filling out your claim (what information to include, etc.)
- Filing your claim with the U.S. Department of Labor
- Determining what benefits you may be eligible to receive and how much coverage you’ll require
- Representing you and fighting for the coverage you deserve, should you be offered less than you need
- Managing and reducing stress and paperwork related to your case
Whether you need basic coverage for medical expenses incurred during treatment for a broken bone or require long-term disability benefits for a serious, life-changing injury that threatens the financial security of your family, a knowledgeable maritime attorney will be able to help you navigate your case and fight on your behalf to get the money you need to pay your bills and support your family.
Need Someone to Defend Your Rights? Our Local Maritime Attorneys Are Experts in Maritime Law
As a BBB accredited business and a leader in maritime law, Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, LLP has helped hundreds of injured seamen, longshoremen, and other maritime workers seek the compensation they deserve after being injured in an accident. Our expertise and success in maritime law cases have led to features by respected media outlets like Bloomberg, CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek, and others.
We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients, in a variety of cases, including those involving employer neglect, safety failures, PTSD, hearing loss, and more. We’re not afraid to go up against big names, as we’ve sued multi-million dollar companies like BP, Phillips 66, and Transocean.
If you are a Texas maritime worker who is covered by the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act and you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, it’s time to get an experienced attorney on your side. To learn more about what we can do for you or ask any questions you may have about your rights, call (888) 297-4553 at any time day or night to schedule your completely free case evaluation with one of our local maritime lawyers.