Philadelphia Dock Workers' Compensation Attorney

Dock Workers

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:

  • Working with hazardous cargo such as toxic chemicals that can release fumes
  • Working in all types of weather can make the dock slick
  • Working near water where a fall can result in drowning
  • Working with and around heavy machinery and moving vehicles
  • Falling cargo
  • Fires and explosions
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Common injuries suffered by dockworkers may include:

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

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.

Status Test

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:

  • Longshoremen (dockworkers) and those who load/unload dock vessels
  • Ship repairmen
  • Shipbuilders and shipbreakers
  • Truck drivers transporting shipping containers from the ships
  • Mechanics for the trucks

Ineligible employees working on or near the docks include:

  • Office and secretarial workers
  • Repairmen and mechanics for recreational vessels
  • Shipbuilders of recreational vessels smaller than 65 feet in length
  • Fish farming workers
  • Marina workers who are not involved in the construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina (except for routine maintenance)
  • Captains of any type of vessel and their crews (these workers are covered under the Jones Act)

Situs Test

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.

Filing for Benefits

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.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP Advocate for Injured Dock Workers

If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer of Gross & Kenny, LLP. Call 215-512-1500 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, allowing us to serve Pennsylvania and New Jersey.