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What maritime law provides compensation for injuries?

The federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a form of workers' compensation for employees who are disabled from injuries suffered on the nations' navigable waters or in adjacent areas in Hawaii and elsewhere that are used for loading, unloading, maintenance or construction of maritime vessels. It also provides dependent benefits for work-related fatalities and benefits for occupational diseases.

This law, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), covers employers of workers engaged in maritime work or in a maritime occupation. Employees include longshoremen and other workers in long-shoring activities.

Th LHWCA does not govern workers who receive benefits under a state's workers' compensation law. It does not cover crew members of a vessel or government employees.

It pays for medical expenses, surgeries, medical supplies, travel expenses and related services for the work-related injury. Injured workers may not select a physician who is not authorized by the DOL for treatment.

Compensation is paid every other week during a worker's total disability. Payment is for a lower rate when the worker is partially-disabled for regular work.

The LHWCA also pays for vocational rehabilitation if the worker cannot return to their former job because of their injury. This includes evaluation, counseling, placement, job retraining and education supplies.

Death benefits are paid to the worker's spouse or other eligible family members if a work-related injury caused the worker' death. A maximum $3,000 may pay for reasonable funeral expenses. Surviving spouses receive 50 percent of the average weekly wage for their life or until they remarry. Additional compensation is provided for their children.

Injured workers must submit written notice of their injury to their employer within 30 days. Notice of death should be provided within 30 days. The time for filing occupational disease claims is two years.

Compensation is not permitted for the first three days of a disability unless it lasts more than 14 days. In those cases, benefits are paid from the first day of lost wages. The first compensation installment is due 14 days after the worker starts to lose time away from work.

Attorneys can represent injured workers with these claims and ensure that their rights to benefits are pursued. They can also help ensure that claims are submitted timely and that sufficient evidence is presented.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC)," Accessed July 24, 2017

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