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Longshore – Defense Base Act

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The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation law covering accidents and injuries involving maritime employment that occur on the navigable waters or adjoining areas.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation law covering accidents and injuries involving maritime employment that occur on the navigable waters or adjoining areas. In Florida, if an injury is covered under the LHWCA, then it is excluded from the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law. Additionally, the Longshore Act has an extension called “the Defense Base Act” which covers employment at overseas military bases of the U.S. and employees of U.S. government contractors working outside the U.S. in public work projects or in national defense and military operations. Although the LHWCA and the Defense Base Act have different coverage requirements, the benefits provided are the same. Generally, in most circumstances the Longshore Act/Defense Base Act provide greater benefits than Florida state law and offer the Employee more choice in selecting their medical care.

Most workers’ compensation attorneys do not handle cases under the Longshore Act. At the Winer Law Group, we represent injured workers’ in claims and disputes before the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Programs, and before Administrative Law Judges at the Office of Administrative Law Judges. We also handle appeals of these cases to the Benefits Review Board or Federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. There are no attorney’s fees due up from for representation in these cases and attorney’s fees and costs will either be due and payable from the employer/carrier, or as part of a lump sum settlement approved by the Dept. of Labor.

Longshore/Defense Base Act FAQ’s

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees workers disabled from injuries on the job and that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel. The LHWCA also provides provides the payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the a work injury cause, or contributes to, the employee’s death. These benefits are typically paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance company on the employer’s behalf. The term “injury” includes occupational diseases, hearing loss and illnesses arising out of employment.
The LHWCA covers employees in traditional maritime occupation s such as longshore workers, ship-repairers , shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers . His/her injuries must occur on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining areas, including piers, docks, terminals, wharves, and those areas used in loading and unloading vessels. Non-maritime employees may also be covered if they perform their work on navigable water and their injuries occur there.
Congress extended the LHWCA to include other types of employment. Employees covered by these extensions are entitled to the same benefits, and their claims are handled in the same way as Longshore Act claims. The following are the extensions of the LHWCA:

    • DEFENSE BASE ACT – applying to employment at overseas military bases of the United States and to employees of U.S. government contractors working outside the United States in public work projects or in national defense and military operations;
    • OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF LANDS ACT – applying to employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States in the exploration and development of natural resources, for example, off-shore oil drilling rigs;
  • NONAPPROPRIATED FUND INSTRUMENTALITIES ACT – applying to civilian employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities of the Armed Forces (for example, military base exchanges and morale, welfare, and recreational facilities).
The LHWCA specifically excludes the following individuals:

  • Seamen (masters or members of a crew of any vessel);
  • Employees of the United States government or of any state or foreign government;
  • Employees whose injuries were caused solely by their intoxication;
  • Employees whose injuries were due to their own willful intention to harm themselves or others.

The LHWCA also excludes the following individuals if they are covered by a state workers’ compensation law:

  • Individuals employed exclusively to perform office clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing work;
  • Individuals employed by a club, camp, recreational operation, restaurant, museum, or retail outlet;
  • Individuals employed by a marina and who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of such marina (except for routine maintenance);
  • Individuals who (A) are employed by suppliers, transporters, or vendors, (B) are temporarily doing business on the premises of a maritime employer, and (C) are not engaged in work normally performed by employees of that employer covered under the Act;
  • Aquaculture workers;
  • Individuals employed to build any recreational vessel under sixty-five feet in length, or to repair any recreational vessel, or to dismantle any part of a recreational vessel in connection with the repair of such vessel;
  • Small vessel workers if exempt by certification of the Secretary of Labor under certain conditions.
The OWCP maintains records of injuries and deaths reported under the LHWCA and its extensions. The OWCP reviews each claim to make sure appropriate benefits are paid promptly. The OWCP provides general information about compensation, medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation to employers, insurance carriers, and claimants, and helps injured employees to file claims. Should claim disputes arise, the OWCP assists the parties to resolve the disputes by conducting informal conferences and making written recommendations on benefit entitlement. If the parties cannot resolve their differences and any party requests a formal hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the OWCP refers the case for a formal hearing. The OWCP also provides vocational rehabilitation services to permanently disabled employees in appropriate cases. The OWCP administers the “Special Fund” which pays disability compensation to injured LHWCA employees or their survivors in certain circumstances.
You should notify your supervisor or employer representative immediately or as soon as possible.

If you require medical attention for your injury, you should obtain treatment as soon as possible.

You are entitled to select a physician of your choice to treat the effects of your injury. You should ask your employer for the for the Form LS-1, Request for Examination and/or Treatment which authorizes medical treatment. However, in a medical emergency, you may request authorization from your employer or its insurance carrier after obtaining emergency treatment.

See FAQ #50 about how to obtain authorization for medical treatment.

You must give a written notice of injury to the employer within 30 days of the occurrence of the injury or within 30 days of your becoming aware that you have an injury or disability related to the employment. You should also give written notice to the OWCP/DLHWC. You should use the Form LS-201, Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death, for this purpose.
Your entitlement to benefits may be jeopardized if you fail to report the injury within the required timeframe. This failure may be excused if you have a good reason, or if the employer is not prejudiced by not receiving the notice. Failure to report the injury within 30 days will not bar you from receiving medical care necessary for the treatment of your work injury.
In addition to the Notice of Injury given to your employer, you should file a written claim with the OWCP within one (1) year after the date of injury; or, if the employer has been voluntarily paying compensation benefits, you should file a written claim within a year of the last payment of compensation. You should use Form LS-203, Employee’s Claim for Compensation, to file your written claim. If a written claim is not filed with OWCP within the required timeframe, the employer may object to the claim and deny compensation benefits should you become disabled due to the injury.
In the event of the employee’s death, the eligible survivors, or their legal representatives must file the Form LS-262, Claim for Death Benefits, with the OWCP within one (1) year after the date of death. The OWCP will require additional claim including, but are not limited to: the marriage certificate and birth certificates of eligible survivors, medical records of the deceased employee, and the Form LS-265, Certification of Funeral Expenses.
If you do not have an OWCP file number and you are filing a new claim, the claim form should be sent the following address. This is the address of our New York City DLHWC District Office, which is designated as the Central Case Create site for the entire program. This site creates cases for all new injuries, regardless of the location of injury or claimant’s home address. After the case is created, it is viewable electronically by the District Office with jurisdiction for the case.

U. S. Department of Labor
Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation
201 Varick Street, Room 740
Post Office Box 249
New York, NY 10014-0249

If you already have an OWCP file number , all claim forms and any other documentation pertaining to your case should be sent the following address. This is the address of our Jacksonville DLHWC District Office, which is designated as the Central Mail Receipt site for the entire program. This site processes all mail for all existing cases, regardless of the owning District Office. The mail is then viewable electronically by the District Office with jurisdiction for the case.

U. S. Department of Labor
Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation
400 West Bay Street, Suite 63A, Box 28
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Click here for more information about our Central Case Create and Central Mail Receipt sites.

No, your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If it does, you may have a claim for coercion under §440.205 or a private cause of action for wrongful termination.

You should notify your employer that your doctor took you off work. Give your employer a medical report or a disability slip from the doctor that shows your medical condition and how long you should remain off work due to the injury. You should also notify the insurance claims adjuster handling your claim.
The employer or insurance carrier should pay compensation within 14 days of receiving Notice of Injury except in cases where the employer or insurance carrier disputes liability for benefits and files a Notice of Controversion, Form LS-207See FAQ #18 describing Notice of Controversion.
The employer, through its insurance carrier or claims administrator, is responsible for providing the appropriate disability benefits and medical treatment for the work-related injury. In most cases, the OWCP does not pay compensation or medical benefits. If, however, both the responsible employer and its insurance carrier are insolvent or bankrupt, the OWCP may pay benefits from the Special Fund that would otherwise be the employer’s responsibility.
If, after receiving notice of your injury and disability, the employer or insurance carrier denies responsibility to provide benefits, it is required by law to file with the OWCP the Form LS-207, Notice of Controversion of Right to Compensation, stating its reasons for the denial. The OWCP will send a copy of that form to the employee with instructions on what to do if the employee disagrees with the denial.
Often the insurance claims adjuster denies the claim because he/she does not have documents necessary to pay benefits. You may contact the claims adjuster to ask what additional information the adjuster needs to accept and pay your claim. If you disagree with the reasons for the denial, you may also write to the OWCP giving the reasons why you disagree. You should also provide the OWCP with documents to support your claim, including your statement of how you were injured, your earnings records or wage statements, and medical reports from your doctor. You should send copies of all your documents and correspondence to both the OWCP and the insurance claims adjustor. Keep copies of all documents, forms, reports, and correspondence. If you do not know what documents are required, you may contact your local Longshore district office for guidance.
While the district office may issue a written recommendation based upon the evidence submitted, that recommendation is not binding on the parties. If either party disagrees with the recommendation, the next step is a formal hearing before a Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge who has the authority to award benefits or to deny claims.
Either party may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge bysubmitting to the district office the Form LS-18, Pre Hearing Statement, with a copy to all other parties. The district office will review the LS-18 before referring the case to the Office of Administrative Law Judges (“OALJ”) for hearing.
You should contact the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington, D.C, or the assigned judge, if you have any questions regarding a hearing date or procedures before that office. Contact information may be obtained at: http://www.oalj.dol.gov/district_offices_index.htm.




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