The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ comp law that offers legal protections to many people who are employed by private companies in the maritime industry. Originally enacted in the 1920s, the LHWCA was crafted to address inadequacies of state-based workers’ compensation programs as pertains to longshore and harbor workers.
For maritime employees who have been hurt on the job, navigating the legal claims process can be especially challenging. It is easy to get confused or overwhelmed by the overlapping regulations. You need to know whether or not you are covered by the LHWCA. Below, our Houston longshoreman personal injury attorneys provide a brief guide to coverage under the LHWCA.
Basic Structure: LHWCA Covers Maritime Employees of Covered Firms
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act applies to all private firms that have employees that work either full-time or part-time on “navigable waters” of the United States. It should be emphasized that the federal statute defines the term navigable waters in a relatively broad manner. Navigable waters are all of those waters that are subject to the natural ebb and flow of tides and/or that are used or can be used for the transport of goods in interstate commerce or international commerce.
Notably, the LHWCA also applies to workers in the areas immediately adjoining navigable waters, including on piers, wharves, and docks. To be clear, a non-maritime employee may be covered under the federal law if they are required to perform work on navigable waters. In effect, the LHWCA covers maritime industry workers who are not covered by the Jones Act or a state-based insurance system.
Limitations: An Overview of Statutory Exceptions to the LHWCA
While the LHWCA is designed to apply broadly—meaning maritime workers, longshoremen, and harbor workers are generally covered—there are some explicit exceptions contained within the statute. An employee is not covered by the LCHWA if:
- They are covered by a state workers’ compensation insurance program;
- They are a ‘seaman’—meaning they are the master or crew member of a vessel; or
- They are employed by a local, state, federal, or foriegn government entity.
Maritime workers should never fall through the cracks of legal protection. If you were injured while working at or near navigable waters, you may be covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. An experienced Texas maritime lawyer can review your case and help explore every avenue for financial recovery. You may have rights under the LHWCA, the Jones Act, or Texas state law.
Get Help From a Texas LHWCA Claims Lawyer for Immediate Help With Your Case
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our top-rated Texas admiralty law attorneys have the skills, experience, and training to protect your rights. If you have questions about coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, we are here to help. For a confidential, no-obligation consultation, please contact our legal team today. From our office in Houston, we represent longshoremen throughout the region.