What Is the Long Shore Act and When Does It Apply?

Workers’ compensation covers around 135 million people in the United States. But there are countless laws and addendum you don’t find out about until after you’re injured on the job.

One of the trickiest laws to understand is the Longshore Act.

If you work in the maritime industry, the Longshore Act may not cover you. The act is very specific in who receives worker’s comp under its provisions.

If you need information on the Longshore Act, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go over everything you need to know in the article below.

What is the Longshore Act?

The Longshore Act, or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, is a federal law protecting worker’s comp rights for maritime workers. It ensures compensation, medical care, and rehab services for employees injured working in the maritime industry. The LHWCA also provides survivor benefits if the employee’s life ends as a result of these injuries.

A private insurance company on behalf of the employer or a self-insured employer pays these benefits.

But there’s specific wording in the LHWCA that many maritime workers find confusing. It covers injuries occurring on navigable waters of the United States. It also includes adjoining areas used for loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel.

That’s where the confusion lies. What does “navigable waters” mean and what does it cover?

Who Does it Cover?

The Longshore Act passed to provide coverage for employees not protected by state or maritime laws. These are longshoremen, harbor workers, shipbreakers, ship-repairmen, and shipbuilders.

It covers:

  • Workers who load or unload vessels
  • Workers who repair or build vessels

The workers must perform these duties on or over navigable waters of the U.S. Navigable water means waters subject to the ebb and flow of tides and wide enough for vessels to transport commerce.

The LHWCA includes piers, wharves, dry docks, terminals, or facilities used to load, unload, repair, or build ships and vessels that adjoin the navigable water.

Who Isn’t Covered?

Seamen, sailors, captains, crewmembers, as well as clerical, office, and security personnel aren’t covered under the Longshore Act.

It also excludes operations at recreational facilities (country clubs, resorts, children’s camps), small vessels, and workers engaged in repair of recreational vessels if they’re covered under a state workers’ compensation law.

There are also several limitations on the vessel size and type. An experienced longshore attorney will know these limitations and if they apply to you.

What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act is an extension of the LHWCA. In general, it gives workers’ compensation protection to civilian employees working on U.S. military bases overseas. It also covers civilian employees contracted by the U.S. government for public works or national defense.

Where the Old West Meets the New Frontier

If you’re still unsure if you’re covered under the Longshore Act or the Defense Base Act, we can help.

At Barnes Law Firm, we are one of the nation’s top Defense Base and Longshore lawyers. We specialize in your rights as a civilian employee working overseas. Along with DBA, we practice maritime law including handling Jones Act claims, Longshore claims, and other maritime claims.

If you’re injured as a result of working in the maritime industry or on the job, contact Barnes Law Firm today and let us protect your rights.

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