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Questions And Answers About The Longshore Act And Defense Base Act

The law can be confusing and the legal process can be intimidating. At Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C., we believe in educating clients and answering their questions. When you know your rights and what to expect, you can focus on healing from your injuries without so much worry and stress.

Our attorneys represent waterfront workers, maritime workers and defense contractor employees in Tennessee, Kentucky and surrounding states. This FAQ covers some of the most common questions our clients have.

You probably have more questions. To address your specific situation, call our law firm at 901-528-1702 to arrange a free consultation.

What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, also known as the Longshore Act, is a federal law providing specific rights and benefits to people injured while working in waterfront industries, such as dock workers of the riverports of Tennessee and Kentucky. The LHWCA covers those who are not considered maritime workers (boat crew and officers) but are exempt from “regular” workers’ compensation in the state where they work.

What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act provides workers’ compensation benefits to civilian employees working under a contract with the U.S. government. This includes public works as well as defense contracts. Our firm has represented civilians working for defense contractors at military installations such as Arnold Air Force Base, Holston Army Plant, NSA Mid South Naval Base, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and Blue Grass Army Depot, and other projects on federal lands.

(The DBA does not apply to civilians employed by the Department of Defense or other federal agencies. Federal workers have their own workers’ compensation system.)

What are the benefits under the LHWCA and the DBA?

The Longshore Act and Defense Base Act both provide the following work injury benefits:

  • Free medical treatment for a job-related injury or illness
  • Wage benefits while you are off the job
  • Disability benefits if you suffered a permanent injury
  • Vocational rehabilitation if you cannot return to the same type of work
  • Death benefits (to a spouse or dependent children) for fatal injuries

These benefits apply regardless of fault. You do not have to prove negligence, only that the injury is work-related.

How do I know if I am covered by the LHWCA?

The definition of “longshoreman” or “harbor worker” can be a gray area. In general, it applies to people who load and unload boats and barges, those who work in shipbuilding and drydock repair, and those involved in harbor or marina construction. But if a significant portion of your longshore job is spent on board a navigable vessel, you may or may not be covered by the Jones Act, which provides additional compensation not available under LHWCA. Our attorneys can determine which laws apply to you.

What is the difference between the Longshore Act and the Jones Act?

In the simplest terms, the Jones Act applies to those who work primarily on the water (“seamen”) and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act applies to those who primarily work on land. Both provide medical care and wage benefits. The Jones Act provides additional benefits such as living expenses and additional damages such as future earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What if my Longshore Act or Defense Base Act claim is denied?

Employers and insurance companies might reject claims for incomplete paperwork or refute that the injury was work-related. If you have been denied benefits or necessary medical treatment, you should contact a law firm that routinely handles these cases. Our attorneys can help you amend your claim or appeal. If your claim is not resolved in a conference with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. We have a good track record of winning benefits for longshore and defense contractor workers.

We’re Here To Answer Your Questions

The work injury lawyers of Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C., have decades of experience and are well-versed in the LHWCA and DBA laws and procedures. Our legal team is committed to protecting your rights and maximizing your compensation for an on-the-job accident or injury.

Call us at 901-528-1702 or toll-free at 800-582-6213, or send us an email to schedule a free initial consultation.