When a dock worker in a land-based industry becomes injured due to an on-the-job accident, they can seek state workers compensation benefits to provide them with income until they can work again. Injured dock and port workers aren’t covered by workers comp; however, they can apply for similar benefits through the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA).
The LHWCA is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from on the job injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas such as piers, docks, terminals, wharves, and other areas used for the loading and unloading of vessels. “Injuries” covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act can also include occupational diseases, hearing loss, and other illnesses and medical conditions arising out of employment.
This law covers employees in traditional maritime occupations such as longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers.
What Is an Occupational Disease?
Port and dock workers face many on-the-job hazards that can result in serious injury. This includes exposure to potentially dangerous materials, such as chemicals and other toxic substances. Prolonged exposure to these substances can result in medical conditions referred to as occupational diseases.
What is an occupational disease? The LHWCA defines an occupational disease as an illness or medical condition that develops as a result of harmful conditions or substances present in a workplace. Pulmonary diseases, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma; auto-immune diseases; rashes and other skin diseases; and asthma are examples of some of the medical conditions that can result from occupational exposure to chemicals or other toxic materials. In many cases, it may take many years after workplace exposure for the symptoms of an occupational disease to become apparent.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act Compensation and Benefits for Occupational Diseases
As an injured dock or port worker, you may be entitled to receive LHWCA compensation and medical benefits if your illness is related to on-the-job exposure to harmful conditions or substances. Depending on the circumstances, you may even be entitled to benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act for an occupational disease even if your symptoms or disability did not occur until after you have retired.
If you are a longshoreman or other harbor worker who is unable to work because of an occupational disease, you have two years from the date you first become aware of the relationship between the occupational disease, your disability, and your employment in which to file a compensation claim. A claim for compensation or benefits should include evidence describing your work history, medical history, diagnosis of your condition, and an explanation of the relationship between your past employment and your current medical condition. No time limits apply to claims for medical benefits for occupational diseases.
One of the biggest challenges in filing a claim for LHWCA benefits for an occupational disease is that the symptoms of many occupational diseases can take years to become noticeable. A worker may not be diagnosed with an occupational disease until long after they’ve left their job or retired. Establishing a link between their disease and workplace exposure that took place years in the past can be difficult.
The Lambert Firm Can Help With Your LHWCA Occupational Disease Claim
If you’re a longshore or harbor worker who has been diagnosed with an occupational disease and you need to file an LHWCA claim, the maritime injury attorneys at The Lambert Firm are here to help. We can also assist if you need to appeal a denial of your LHWCA claim.
We also represent seamen in Jones Act claims for occupational diseases, as well as offshore oil and gas drilling platform workers in similar Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) claims. The Lambert Firm has been protecting the rights of injured seamen since the 1970s. We’ve obtained billions of dollars in settlements for our clients.
Contact us through our website or call us at 800-521-1750 to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your LHWCA claim with an experienced maritime injury lawyer.