Longshoreman Rights in Injury Cases


A Longshoreman loads and unloads cargo from a shipping vessel. The strenuous work can lead to injuries that range from mild pain to major surgery. Causes of the injuries suffered by harbor workers include improperly secured cargo that comes loose and strikes an employee. Defective safety equipment, slick deck surfaces, and shipping vessel crashes also cause injuries during the loading and unloading of ship vessel cargo.

In 1927, the United States Congress passed a law that addresses the often dangerous working conditions experienced by maritime workers.

Overview of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) represents a federal law that ensures harbor workers receive compensation, health care, and occupational rehabilitation assistance for injuries that happen at the port, as well as on the waters within United States territory. The LHWCA also provides financial support for surviving family members if a qualifying wound caused the death of a maritime employee. Financial benefits paid to surviving family members typically derive from the employer that has taken out insurance to prevent significant financial losses.

The LHWCA covers every employee who works in clearly defined maritime jobs, such as longshoremen, ship builders, and construction employees. Navigable waters include piers, wharfs, docks, and shipping terminals where cargo-related injuries occur.

What Longshoreman Need To Know

Maritime workers who suffer injuries on the job need to follow a sequence of steps to ensure coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. First, inform your supervisor or the union representative immediately after suffering the wound. If, you require medical attention, promptly visit a medical provider for a diagnosis and treatment of the injury. Longshoremen have the legal right to choose a physician to diagnose and treat injuries. Ask your employer to provide Form LS-1, which is the Request form, for Examination and/or Treatment that authorizes medical care for an injured worker. However, do not wait for authorization whenever you require emergency medical care.

Employee Legal Responsibility

Harbor workers must submit a written notice informing employers about an accident or negligence that occurred on the job within 30 days of the injury. Sometimes, a worker might not immediately realize he or she has incurred an injury. Thus, the law allows you to file an employer written notice 30 days after you realize you suffered a wound on the job. Harbor workers who fail to report an on the job injury within 30 days might lose the financial benefits ensured under the LHWCA.

How to Find the Best Attorney

On the job, injuries happen for several reasons. Employer negligence represents one of the reasons. If you feel your employer caused an injury covered under the LHWCA, you need to find a licensed attorney who has experience litigating similar cases.

You can ask for a referral from friends and family members, as well as research the attorneys who practice personal injury law in your area. After you select the best attorney, schedule an initial consultation to discuss the how and why of your maritime law case. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations to determine whether your case has enough legal merit to move forward.

Factors to consider for choosing the right lawyer include years of experience, the percentage of the lawyer’s caseload that involves personal injury issues, and whether the attorney typically represents plaintiffs or defendants in similar cases. Moreover, you want the attorney you choose to work the case and not hand it off to another lawyer who might not have as much experience litigating personal injury cases.

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