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Longshore Workers' Compensation

LONGSHORE AND HARBORWORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT
AND THE DEFENSE BASE ACT

     Certain workers are protected by two Federal Statutes: the Longshore and Harborworkers Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Defense Base Act (DBA).

      The LHWCA protects those individuals who work on or near the waterfront in the maritime industry who are not seaman.  Typically workers who are protected under this Act include workers who load and unload vessels as well as those workers who build or repair vessels.  Another group of worker who is protected under LHWCA include are those who work at the stores on military bases such as the commissary at the Naval Air Station.   One of the unique features of a Longshore claim is the concept of scheduled versus non-scehduled injuries.  Scheduled injuries are considered less serious and are assigned a certain number of weeks depending on the specific body part that is affected. 

     Some specific body parts that fall into the "scheduled injury" category and their corresponding number of weeks are listed below:

  • Leg  -  288 weeks
  • Arm -  312 weeks
  • Hand - 244 weeks
  • Foot  -  205 weeks 
  • Fingers:  Thumb - 75 weeks , First Finger - 46 weeks,  2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers - 30, 25, and 15 weeks respectively.

     For instance if the worker sustains an injury to his or her knee only this type of injury would fall under the "Leg" injury category.  If the worker receives a ten percent (10%) impairment rating for the knee injury, the worker would receive 28.8 weeks of compensation benefits regardless of whether or not the worker returned to work.

     If the worker sustained an injury that is non-scheduled (neck, back, hips) the worker would receive benefits until he was at his pre-injury wage and there is no corresponding weekly cap.  In the context of a non-scheuled injury and assuming that the worker returned to work, the worker would receive two-thirds of the difference between his pre-injury earnings and his return to work earnings.

      The DBA protects workers who work as contractors (usually for the military) in remote locations.  An example of this type of worker may include a person who operates a drone for the military in the Middle East.  This worker is typically assisting the military in a combat role but are not part of the military. 

      The Statutes mirror each other and the application of both Acts falls under the Department of Labor.  The medical benefits that are provided are identical and the method to calculate the appropriate compensation rate is identical.  Additionally, the case law surrounding the issues that arise under either Act are used in both situations.

      My office has been handling these types of claims for many years and if you have any questions about this type of claim, please do not hesitate to contact my office.