FAQs About The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Many accident victims are overwhelmed by their injuries, and the thought of a legal case can seem daunting. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team understands these feelings, and we’ve compiled our thoughts on many common worries here to help you get started finding the answers you need to protect yourself and your family. If you’ve been hurt in a construction, maritime, or railroad accident, browse our FAQs today.
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What Are the Dangers of Working in a New York Shipyard?
Yes, working in a shipyard is dangerous. While there may be many benefits to the work, including the income you can earn and the rewarding work that you will do, there are also specific dangers you need to know about.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the injury accident rate among shipyard workers is more than twice what it is for general industry—including construction.
What This Means For You
It does not mean that you should not take the job. Instead, it means that you should make sure that:
- You are well trained for the work that you are doing.
- You work for an employer who cares about safety and who provides all the appropriate safety equipment and training to workers.
- You know what to do if you are injured.
It is possible to recover from some shipyard injuries.
But You Have to Know How
After you see a doctor and have a plan to recover physically, you will likely need to see a lawyer to develop a plan to recover financially. You may have lost a significant amount of income if you are hurt and can’t work, and you may be incurring significant medical bills. However, the law may allow you to recover from your lost income due to your work injury.
For more information, please read our FREE publication, The Legal Rights Of Injured Seamen, Dockbuilders, Dredgemen And Other Commercial Mariners: Ten Important Questions Answered , and please start an online chat with us now.
Does the Longshore Act Apply to Your Work Injury?
Since its enactment in 1927, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act) has provided protection to some maritime workers who are hurt on the job. If you have been hurt while working on a dock, in a harbor, or in another maritime position then you are going to want to know if the Longshore Act applies to you and what you should do to protect your rights.
Who Qualifies for Protection?
Generally, a longshoreman, harbor worker, shipbuilder, ship repairer, or ship breaker may be covered by the Longshore Act. However, there are some people who work on docks or in harbors who do not qualify for protection.
Specifically, the Longshore Act has explicit exceptions for the following kinds of workers if state workers’ compensation laws apply to their recoveries:
- Workers who exclusively do secretarial, clerical or data processing work
- Workers who exclusively do security work
- Workers who are employed by a club, camp, retail outlet, restaurant, recreational operation or museum
- Workers who are employed by a marina and who are not working in the construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina
- Aquaculture workers
- Workers who are employed to build, repair or dismantle recreational vessels under sixty-five feet in length
- Individuals employed by suppliers, transporters or vendors
- Some individuals who are temporarily doing business
- Individuals who are not doing work that is normally done by those who are covered by the Longshore Act
It also does not apply to:
- A master or crew member of a vessel
- Workers asked by a master to load, unload, or repair a small vessel that weighs under eighteen tons
Other laws apply to protect the rights of these injured workers.
Pursue a Claim According to the Applicable Law
The myriad of maritime injury laws and other workers’ compensation laws is complex and it is important to pursue the right type of claim in order to protect your recovery. If you have questions about which laws apply to you, we encourage you to read the articles in the related link section of this page and start a live chat with us today.
What are my rights if I am injured as a marine construction worker in the State of New York?
First of all, your employer is responsible for providing benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) which will provide medical treatment for the injuries you sustained at work and will also provide you with compensation payments during your period of disability. Depending on the part of your body that is injured, you may also be entitled to a lump sum award if you have any permanent injuries.
Depending on the circumstances which caused your injuries and the type of work you were performing you may also be able to pursue a lawsuit under Section 905(b) of the LHWCA, under the General Maritime Law and/or due to violations of the New York State Labor Law.
Special Rights Under New York Labor Law Sections 200, 240 AND 241
Some special laws apply to construction workers in New York. Construction and demolition workers are entitled to recover damages caused by a violation of New York Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6). Under section 240, if the equipment required by that law is not provided, or fails, there is strict liability against both the owner of the property, and the contractor(s) on the job site, and you are entitled to compensatory damages caused by the violation. This statute is a strong weapon in your arsenal, so much so that even your own contributory negligence will not reduce your recovery. The safety benefits of this statute cover all workers who are injured by a gravity or elevation-related risk. It dictates that various safety devices must be installed and in good working order during the construction or demolition of any structure to protect you from falling or being struck by a falling object.
Under New York Labor Law, Section 241, additional rights are provided to the construction worker against the property owner and other contractors if they fail to comply with the law. Labor Law Section 241 Subsections (1) through (5) provide for specific actions to be followed, and equipment to be provided, on the job site. And under Labor Law, Section 241, Subsection (6), owners and contractors are required to comply with various regulations adopted by the New York Department of Labor for the construction workers' protection. Finally, under Section 200, owners, architects and contractors must fulfill common law duties to protect construction workers from injury.
Does Maritime Law Apply to Me if I Was Injured While Working in the Harbor?
Maritime law does apply to harbor workers, though different laws apply to harbor workers than to seamen. The most significant law that applies to harbor workers is called the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act protects workers who are involved in the maritime industry but who do not work on navigable waters or on the high seas. Harbor workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for their injuries pursuant to this law. Damages can include compensation for 2/3 of your average weekly wage for a number of weeks. The number of weeks depends on the body part that was injured.
In order to recover disability payments pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, it is important to file your claim in a very specific way. The New York and New Jersey maritime lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you recover the damages to which you are entitled.
How is a claim made under the Longshore Act?
If you work in the maritime industry in New York, then it is important to understand the laws that protect you if you get injured while on the job. While traditional jobs are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you have protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the LHWCA offers payment for injures if you work in a maritime occupation, excluding seamen.
If you get hurt on the job, you will need to file a claim under the LHWCA. It is your responsibility to alert your employer to your injury within 30 days of noticing symptoms or of the injury occurring. If it is a non-emergency situation, you should ask your employer for the proper form you must file to seek treatment and then get proper medical care. If your death is caused on the job, then your family will need to file a death benefits form to get compensation for your medical care and other benefits.
If you do not follow the proper protocols for filing a claim, you may be unable to collect compensation for lost wages and other claims. However, in most cases, even if reporting is done properly, your medical expenses will still be covered. Do be aware that you will not be covered if it is found you harmed yourself or your injuries were caused by you being intoxicated at the time of the injury. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.
What is the Most common Cause of Shipyard Injuries?
When it comes to maintaining and repairing ships, the risks that are inherent with this profession are unique because of the type of work and positions that you are required to perform and hold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that one of the biggest causes of injury in New York shipyards as well as others across the country comes from the necessity to complete hot work.
Hot work in shipyards included any brazing, cutting or welding jobs. The tools you require to complete these jobs are part of the problem, since they create a constant vibrating motion that can cause you to develop debilitating injuries over time. These can include carpal tunnel syndrome and white finger disease.
Other ways you can be injured while working with hot processes is through burns and shock. Eye injuries are also commonly reported and can range from minor to serious. Over-exposure to the elements and chemicals can also lead to long-term disability.
In addition to these risks, one of the most common causes of shipyard injury is the positioning that you need to hold while performing these tasks. Many times, hot work must be done on a vessel that requires you to bend into and hold uncomfortable positions for a long period of time. This can lead to poor posture, putting pressure on your neck, spine and back. In some cases, lengthy time spent kneeling can also lead to problems with the knees, while continuously holding tight hand grips is also dangerous. This information is solely intended to educate and should not be considered legal advice.
Who isn't covered by the LHWCA?
Like any injury compensation system, the system set up by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act has various eligibility rules. Among these rules are rules limiting who is covered under the act. Today we will talk about what workers do not qualify for coverage under the act.
First of all, a worker is not covered by the LHWCA if they are not engaged in maritime occupation/work.
However, not all maritime workers are eligible for coverage. Certain workers are outright excluded from coverage by the act. These workers are: state employees, federal employees, employees of foreign governments, vessel crew members, vessel masters and individuals involved in the repairing/unloading/loading of vessels below a certain weight as a result of being engaged to do so by a master.
Also, the act excludes certain workers from LHWCA coverage if they qualify for workers’ comp coverage under the workers' comp system of the applicable state. These workers include: aquaculture employees, workers who dismantle/repair/build recreational vessels under a certain length, retail outlet employees, museum employees, camp employees, restaurant employees, club employees, recreational operation employees, certain marina workers, certain small vessel workers and workers exclusively employed for office clerical/security/secretarial/data-processing work.
Now, a maritime worker being excluded from LHWCA coverage does not mean the worker has no compensation-seeking options following suffering a workplace injury. They may qualify for state workers' compensation or they may be eligible to take certain other legal actions, like making a Jones Act claim. Experienced attorneys can help injured maritime workers understand what specific compensation-pursuing options they have given their particular job position and other aspects of their particular situation.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC) - Pamphlet LS-560," Accessed March 3, 2016