What is the LHWCA?
While most Georgia employees are covered under the state’s workers’ compensation laws, some are instead covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This is a federal law that is specifically designed to protect workers within the maritime industry.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act was enacted by Congress in 1927 because many states failed to pay workers’ compensation benefits to maritime workers who were injured on the job. This law provides medical benefits and rehabilitation benefits. It also provides disability compensation for maritime workers who are partially or totally disabled from on-the-job injuries. The LCHWCA covers the following types of workers:
• Harbor workers
• Loaders and unloaders of ships
• Truck drivers who transport shipping containers away from docks
• Civilian employees working on military bases
Before a worker will be eligible for LHWCA benefits, their job must pass both status and situs tests. To pass the status test, a part of the injured worker’s job must involve maritime duties. Employees must work near to, on, or near navigable waters, including areas in which workers dismantle, repair, build, load, or unload maritime vessels within one mile of the shore to be eligible for benefits following longshore worker accidents.
Depending on their jobs, some workers might be eligible for either workers’ compensation benefits or LHWCA benefits. However, a worker who is eligible for both must choose whether to pursue workers’ comp or LHWCA benefits and cannot receive benefits under both systems. In general, the benefits available under the LCHWCA are more generous than those offered by most state workers’ compensation systems. For example, an eligible worker who is injured while working on the job and left with temporary or total disabilities might recover 60% of their former income through workers’ compensation, but they might receive 66% under the LHWCA.