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How does a worker apply for benefits under the LHWCA?

While most workers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are covered by state workers' compensation laws, there are certain workers engaged in Louisiana's maritime industry who are covered by a number of federal laws relating to offshore injuries or injuries that occur at docks and harbors. Among those is the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which compensates workers injured on United States waters or while performing their duties on the shore. The basics of the Act were discussed in an earlier blog post.

According to the LHWCA, an injured worker must notify the employer of an injury or illness immediately in order to claim any benefits. If that worker needs medical treatment, the person should ask the employer to provide Form LS-1, which authorizes treatment. After obtaining the necessary medical attention, an injured worker or the person's representative must send a written notice to the employer within 30 days. In cases of fatalities, the notice still needs to be sent within 30 days. The notice uses Form LS-201.

After the formal notification, a worker also has to submit a compensation claim form, Form LS-203, within one year from the date of injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever happens first. The same rule applies to cases in which a worker is killed while on duty. It is important to note that in certain exceptional cases, the federal Office of Workers' Compensation Programs permits a claim to be filed within a period of two years from the date of injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever is earlier.

The OWC also assists people affected by offshore injuries and their representatives to understand the LHWCA. Additionally, OWC officials will explain the entire claim process, as well as advise about available medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation services. Another important point to remember is that compensation under the LHWCA is available for the first three days following the injury only when the injury or illness prevents a worker from going to work for 14 days or more.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC)," accessed April 20, 2015

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