Dockworkers are a vital part of the process of shipping and receiving goods. They ensure the efficient function of our ports, often working under strenuous and sometimes dangerous conditions. Many dockside hazards present a risk of work injury to the workers loading and unloading goods. These hazards include:
Common injuries suffered by dockworkers may include:
Injured dock workers have access to the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA covers maritime employees including longshoremen, harbor workers, and most of the other workers on docks, and in the shipyards and terminals. To qualify for benefits under the LHWCA, maritime workers must meet certain eligibility criteria as defined by “status” and “situs” tests.
The status test says that to be eligible for LHWCA benefits, an employee must perform maritime work. This means a significant part of an employee’s duties must involve water or marine transport. Eligible workers include:
Ineligible employees working on or near the docks include:
Situs means location and this test determines if the employee works on, near, or adjacent to navigable water. To be eligible for benefits the employee must work on a ship or vessel, or on the adjoining docks, piers, terminals, or other areas used for loading, unloading, repairs, shipbuilding, or shipbreaking.
The LHWCA allows injured workers to file claims under both a state Workers’ Compensation act and the LHWCA. However, the employee may not receive double benefits. Not all states allow the filing of both claims so it is important to consult with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation.
The LHWCA provides workers with temporary total or partial disability benefits. Workers may also receive compensation for their medical treatment, and mileage and transportation expenses. Those who are unable to return to their previous line of work are eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. Death benefits are available to families of dock workers who do not recover from their injuries.
Generally, LHWCA benefits are slightly more than most state Workers’ Compensation benefits, but filing a claim under the LHWCA can be a very slow process. Therefore, injured workers may want to file a claim in both systems to start receiving assistance from whichever claim is heard first. After the Longshore benefits claim is processed, if that amount is more, workers can collect the greater amount, minus the state benefits that have already been paid to them.
If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer of Gross & Kenny, LLP. Call 267-589-0090 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, allowing us to serve Pennsylvania and New Jersey.