Did you recently suffer a shipping dock work injury? If so, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to claim compensation. The experienced attorneys of Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP will provide you with all the information you need to know.
Shipping Dock Work Injuries – Understanding the Law
The vast majority of people who pursue compensation after suffering injuries on shipping docks in the US do so through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This act extends workers’ comp benefits to certain maritime employees who sustain injuries on, near, or adjacent to the navigable waters of the United States.
33 U.S. Code § 903, a section of the LHWCA, says that maritime employees are covered if they suffer an injury or die on a “pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining areas customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel.”
However, the LHWCA explicitly excludes the following groups and individuals:
- Employees of the United States government
- Employees of any state government
- Employees of any foreign government
- Employees who sustained injuries caused solely by their intoxication
- Employees who suffered injuries because of their willful intent to harm themselves or other people, and
- Seamen (crewmembers or captains who work on a vessel in navigation
If you fall into one or more of these categories, you may need to use a different law (such as the Jones Act) or a private insurance policy to pursue compensation for your injuries.
If you aren’t sure whether you can pursue compensation through the LHWCA, you should speak with an experienced maritime law attorney. They will analyze the details of your case and let you know how you should proceed.
How to File a Claim Under the LHWCA
Pursuing compensation for a shipping dock work injury can often be a long and tedious process. It is almost always advisable to have a skilled attorney help you along the way.
Your pathway to the benefits you deserve will begin in the immediate aftermath of your accident. In the days after you suffer your injury, you will need to:
- Verbally notify your supervisor or manager about your injury
- Request Form LS-1 (Request for Examination and/or Treatment), and
- Seek medical attention as soon as practically possible
You will also need to provide your employer with written notice of your shipping dock work injury. You’ll need to complete and submit using Form LS-201 (Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death)
You will need to provide this notice within 30 days of your accident in most cases. However, you might be able to extend this deadline under certain circumstances.
Once you submit a written notice to your employer, their insurer will hopefully start paying your benefits. If they do not, you will need to file a formal claim.
To file a formal LHWCA claim, you’ll need to fill out and submit Form LS-203 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation) to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). In this form, you will provide information such as:
- Your name
- Your job title
- Your earnings
- A description of your accident
- A description of your injuries, and
- The name and address of your doctor
You generally need to submit Form LS-203 within one year of the date of your accident.
Once the OWCP receives your documentation, it will schedule an informal conference, followed by a formal hearing. At these meetings, you will have an opportunity to prove your case.
Your formal LHWCA hearing will take place before a federal administrative law judge. They’ll review your case to determine:
- Whether or not you sustained a work-related injury
- What (if any) medical treatments you require, and
- How much (if any) compensation you should receive
In most instances, this hearing lasts no longer than a few hours. If the judge rules in your favor, you will most likely begin receiving your LHWCA benefits within a week or two.
What Benefits are Available Under the LHWCA?
There is a wide variety of benefits available to injured maritime workers who seek compensation under the LHWCA, such as:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: This benefit is available to workers who have disabilities from which they are expected to recover fully but are currently preventing them from working. It is calculated at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits: This benefit is available to workers who have disabilities that prevent them from working and from which they are not expected to recover fully. It is initially calculated at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage but is subject to future modification.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: This benefit is available to workers who have partial disabilities from which they are expected to recover fully. It is calculated at two-thirds of their “loss of earning capacity.”
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: This benefit is available to workers who have partial disabilities from which they are not expected to recover fully. It is calculated at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage or according to the schedule prepared by the Department of Labor.
The LHWCA also allows injured employees to receive compensation for their healthcare-related transportation costs (parking, tolls, mileage, etc.).
The amount of compensation paid out due to LHWCA claims varies significantly from one case to the next. If you would like an accurate assessment of the benefits you might be eligible to claim, you should consult with an experienced maritime law attorney.
Your Experienced LHWCA Attorneys in Houston, Texas
At Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP, we have been helping Texas residents recover benefits under the LHWCA for years. Our skilled attorneys know how the system works. If you would like us to help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your shipping dock work injury, please do not hesitate to give us a call or contact us online.