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Working in the maritime industry is a very physically demanding and dangerous occupation. The work required of longshoremen is particularly challenging, and these maritime employees are at risk for serious injuries each day they are on the job. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA” or “Longshore Act”) is a federal law that provides compensation to longshoremen who are injured during employment or suffer from diseases caused or worsened by conditions of employment. The Longshore Act applies to accidents and illnesses on navigable waters in the U.S. or adjoining areas, such as docks, piers, terminals, and other spaces used to load and unload vessels.
Having previously represented stevedores, ship repair facilities, and marine insurance companies for 19 years, the longshoreman injury attorneys at Brais Law Firm are in a unique position to help longshoremen who have been involved in a shipboard or pier-side accident causing serious personal injury. We are very familiar with the legal nuances underlying Longshore Act claims. Our legal team includes Partner Keith Brais, a board-certified Florida Bar specialist in admiralty and maritime law.
Medical and disability benefits, compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitation services are recoverable under the Longshore Act. Like many state workers’ compensation laws, the right to receive benefits under the LHWCA does not depend upon a finding that the employer was at fault. Instead, LHWCA claims are administered by the Federal Department of Labor which has its own notice, time limits, and procedural rules. These rules differ from state and federal court systems.
In addition to providing certain benefits payable by employers, the LHWCA allows an injured maritime worker to bring suit against negligent persons or entities other than his/her employer for damages. Such “third-party” liability claims commonly arise during vessel accidents due to the ship owners’ or crews’ negligence. In many situations involving severe on-the-job injuries, the benefits provided under the Longshore Act itself may be insufficient to cover the injured workers’ full damages and losses. Section 905(b) of the LHWCA gives the injured worker an additional legal avenue to recover damages for the injuries sustained.
Unlike LHWCA claims against employers that the Department of Labor must administer, suits against non-employer negligent third parties are brought to courts. In a 905(b) third-party claim, damages available to the injured longshoreman can include:
In this section, we’ll consider some of the most pressing and important questions you might have about the injuries you experienced while working as a longshoreman, harbor worker, or other covered seaman.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is managed by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC) and is a federal law that provides for the payment of:
For covered employees who are disabled as a result of on-the-job injuries that happen on U.S. navigable waters or adjoining areas that are customarily utilized for the loading, unloading, repairing, and building of a vessel, covered injuries are not limited to those that happen in accidents but also include occupational diseases, illnesses, and hearing loss that result from employment.
As clarified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), employees who are engaged in traditional maritime occupations are covered under the Act, including:
To be covered, it is necessary that the work happens on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas, including:
Some non-maritime employees may also be covered by the LHWCA, depending on whether they perform their work on navigable water and whether their injuries happen there.
If you have lost a loved one to an accident on the job while they were engaging in covered work under the LHWCA, you are entitled to payment of survivor benefits in certain situations. When a work injury causes or was a contributing factor to a longshoreman or other covered employee’s death, their surviving family may be entitled to survivor benefits.
The LHWCA notes that survivor benefits are generally paid by the self-insured employer of the longshoreman killed on the job or through a private insurance company on behalf of the employer.
The damages you are entitled to fall under three broad categories: compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation. Compensation covers lost wages that happen as a result of your injuries and could also include longer-term costs like an inability to earn due to disability from your injuries. Medical care includes not only present care like the emergency room but also the future care that your injuries will require. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may also be eligible to receive training to work in other industries if your injuries cause you to be unable to continue in maritime work.
The amount that your case is worth will depend on the evidence that you gather and file with your claim. You can only collect compensation that you can prove with evidence. As explained by the U.S. Department of Labor, you’ll generally be applying to collect your benefits (or survivor benefits if you lost a loved one) with the insurance company of the employer. Insurance companies work for profit, and profits are increased by decreasing costs, like payments made to injured persons like you.
Your case is worth what you can prove and what can be negotiated for with the insurance company. Alternatively, whatever you can convince a judge or jury that you are owed if the insurance company will not cover your claim is what you can collect. An experienced longshoreman injury attorney can help support the best possible outcome in your case.
When you are injured on the job and require the assistance of an attorney, you will generally require the assistance of a personal injury attorney that handles workers’ compensation cases. While most personal injury attorneys will be willing to take your case if you may be entitled to damages, few personal injury attorneys have direct experience with longshoreman injury cases like Brais Law Firm.
The longshoreman injury lawyers from Brais Injury Law have decades of combined experience representing injured seamen and other longshoremen and can do so in a way unlike any other personal injury law firm in the field. Founding partner Mr. Keith Brais is a board-certified Florida Bar specialist in admiralty and maritime law, and we know what it takes to win your specific case.
While many of our potential clients worry about the cost of working with an attorney, it is essential to understand that your initial consultation is free. During your initial consultation, some preliminary information will be collected in order to help our intake specialist determine if you have a case that fits with our firm. Once we have collected some basic information, you’ll have a discussion with an attorney to determine the merits of your case. If you have a viable case, we will then present an offer of representation containing the full terms of our potential attorney-client relationship.
Typically, when we take an injury case, you will pay nothing up-front and nothing out-of-pocket, ever. This is because we generally take longshoreman injury cases on contingency, which means we only get paid if we win your case. Our payment comes out of a portion of the earnings that we generate for you, which we’ll agree upon before getting started.
Your initial consultation with a longshoreman injury attorney at Brais Injury Law is free, and if we take your case, you may not have to pay anything out-of-pocket. Reach out as soon as possible to set a time to discuss your case and learn if we can help you make the most of your compensation.
The LHWCA is a complicated act to navigate on your own. However, depending upon the circumstances surrounding your accident or injury, you may be able to collect benefits provided for under the Act and pursue a third-party lawsuit against the vessel owner or other at-fault parties. Contact an experienced longshoreman injury attorney at Brais Law Firm. Our attorneys have a complete understanding of the intricacies of the LHWCA. We will carefully evaluate your case to identify all available legal avenues to help you recover the full compensation you deserve. You can schedule a free consultation with a longshoreman injury attorney today by calling 800-499-0551 or completing our online contact form.
Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you.
I highly recommend Brais Law Firm. Their professionalism and expertise were top notch. My slip and fall injury case involved a well known cruise ship and was nerve racking to me. They calmed all my fears and walked me through step by step. In the end they helped me obtain a favorable recovery. Look no further, call them with your…
Awesome team of legal professionals!! I can't thank Mr. Brais and his team enough for helping me through the worst experience of my life. Had it not been for their dedication to seeing things through. I would be in a very bad place. I highly recommend Brais Law firm.
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