If you’re a harbor worker or longshoreman and are injured on the job, you may need to make a longshoreman claim with the federal government instead of a workers’ compensation claim with your state of residence.
State workers’ compensation programs typically don’t cover longshoremens’ injuries. To help longshore workers get paid quickly for their injuries, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) has a special Longshore Program to help folks like you navigate claims for accidents and injuries.
Because this is a separate program from your state’s workers’ compensation program, filing a longshore claim can get confusing. The experienced maritime attorneys at Grossman Attorneys at Law can help. We’ve spent decades helping longshore workers obtain the benefits they deserve.
What Is a Longshore Claim?
The U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides workers’
compensation benefits to longshore workers injured on the job. This means workers who were injured “on or upon, the navigable waters of the U.S. or on any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel.”
The types of injuries that longshoremen sustain can include:
- Back injuries,
- Brain injuries,
- Bone fractures,
- Crush injuries,
- Chemical burns,
- Hearing loss,
- Vision loss, and/or
- Wrongful and accidental death.
These types of injuries are serious and can be life-altering. If you have questions, working with an experienced maritime attorney can make the process easier.
What Is the Process for Filing Longshore Claims?
If you are a longshoreman injured in an on-the-job accident, there is a specific procedure to follow under the LHWCA. We’ve broken this process down into an easy, step-by-step guide.
Step One: Notify Your Employer of Your Accident or Injury
Tell your employer right away if you are injured in a job site accident. This is important not only for your own health and safety but also for your longshore claim. If your claim is serious and you think you need medical attention, ask for a Form LS-1. Filing this form will allow you to see the doctor of your choice. Obtain medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible.
Step Two: Give Your Employer Written Notice of Your Accident or Injury
Your employer needs to have written notice of your injury within 30 days of when it happened. You can let your employer know using Form LS-201. If your loved one was a longshoreman who died in a work accident, your family will need to notify their employer of the death within 30 days as well. They can use Form LS-201 for that too. If you have questions about this form or providing notice, an experienced maritime attorney can help. The OWCP can also assist.
Step Three: File a Written Longshore Claim for Compensation
The final step is to file a written claim for compensation on Form LS-203. This must be done within one year after the date of your injury or the last payment of any prior compensation, whichever is later. Claims for survivor benefits also need to be filed within one year after the date of a longshoreman’s death.
What Types of Benefits Can I Receive Under a Longshore Claim?
Typically, you can expect to receive two types of benefits when filing a longshore claim: medical benefits and disability benefits.
Your employer (or its insurance company) should pay for your medical care. This typically includes prescription drugs and may include reimbursement for traveling to doctors appointments. It may also cover certain types of durable medical equipment and other medical care. Make sure to retain all your receipts and records for all your medical bills.
If your injury caused you to miss more than three days of work and this caused you to lose wages, your employer or its insurance company may owe you compensation for this loss. Typically, payment is issued within 14 days of your employer being notified of your disability. However, if you’ve been told that your disability is permanent, you may need to file Form LS-203 to obtain compensation. File this form within a year of your last paycheck. Checking with a maritime lawyer can help you navigate this sometimes confusing aspect of longshoreman claims.
What Happens If My Longshore Claim Is Refused?
There are a few common scenarios where a longshore claim might be refused.
What Is a Notice of Controversion?
If your employer or their insurance carrier denies your claim for benefits, they need to file a form with the OWCP stating why they denied your claim. This is a Notice of Controversion. The form states the formal basis for the denial. By law, they are required to also provide you with a copy. A maritime attorney can help you make sense of a Notice of Controversion.
What If My Longshore Claim Is Unfairly Denied?
If you think your claim has been unfairly denied for any reason, you are allowed to contact the Longshore Claims Examiner handling your case. You’ll need to submit robust documentation to support your reasons to contest the denial. Don’t go it alone. Speaking with an attorney who can help you put together the correct documentation can make all the difference in getting the compensation you deserve. Grossman Attorneys at Law have decades of experience helping longshoremen like you.
What Happens If the OWCP Recommends Payment but the Insurance Still Won’t Pay?
Maybe you’ve participated in an informal conference and OWCP recommended payment of your claim. However, your employer or their insurance has still denied the claim. Unfortunately, that recommendation is not binding on the parties. The next step in the process is a hearing before a Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge. This can be a long process. Having a trusted attorney by your side is crucial.
Why Grossman Attorneys at Law
We understand just how challenging longshore work can be. We’ve been maritime lawyers for decades and have helped hundreds of folks just like you get compensated for their injuries. From the dock to the administrative law judge’s courtroom, Grossman Attorneys at Law is by your side to help you recover. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.