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Basics of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2015 | Admiralty & Maritime Law

Louisiana has long coastline dotted with numerous ports and harbors. Many state residents, such as those residing in Lake Charles, are employed at maritime facilities. Unlike employees covered by state workers’ compensation laws, dock and harbor workers receive benefits from different federal acts, such as the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or LHWCA. Information about the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act can be found in our earlier blogs posts.

The LHWCA is administered by the federal Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. According to the LHWCA, workers injured while performing duties on navigable waters belonging to the United States or in a U.S. harbor or port while loading, unloading, repairing, building or dismantling a vessel are entitled to workers’ compensation. The LHWCA also provides benefits to certain survivors and dependents, if the injury to the worker was development of an occupational disease.

However, some maritime workers are not under covered by the LHWCA, even if injured working in a harbor or at sea. A government employee from another state, a federal government employee or employees of foreign governments are not covered under the Act’s terms. For example, the master and crew of a U.S.-owned ship or a foreign-owned ship are not covered by the LHWCA. Certain other workers may also be excluded, for example, if they are covered by their own state’s workers’ compensation program.

In the event of offshore and dockworker injuries, a combination of these federal acts provides benefits to maritime workers along with employee rights as defined by the LHWCA. The provisions of the LHWCA are also incorporated into several other statutes that provide workers’ compensation benefits for other types of employees. Some of the examples of these statutes are the Defense Base Act, the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Source:, “Health Benefits, Retirement Standards and Workers’ Compensation: Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation,” Accessed on April 7, 2015


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