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The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act: 3 facts

1. What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)?

This is a federal, not state, act that gives many maritime workers and civilian employees on military bases protection if they get injured while on the job. It was written into effect in 1927. It was amended in 1972 and again in 1984. 


2. Why was the LHWCA enacted?

Working with large vessels, at sea and with dangerous machinery has risks. Men who had been seriously injured on the job still needed to provide for their families but because of the injury suffered while on the job, could not work. Their only recourse was to sue the ship owners. Ship owners then began to require that workers hold them not responsible or “harmless” in the even of an injury or for any injuries the suffered while working. 

3. What is the difference between state workers’ compensation and the federal compensation under the LHWCA?

For total temporary disability compensation, most state workers’ compensation acts pay 60 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage. Under LHWCA, these same benefits are typically 66.66 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage.

It is important to point out that under the federal LHWCA  an injured worker is eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits. Many states’ workers’ compensation acts do not provide for a permanent partial disability benefit. 

The LHWCA provides four types of financial benefits to injured maritime workers. These are: 

  1. Temporary total disability (TTD)
  2. Temporary partial disability (TPD)
  3. Permanent total disability (PTD)
  4. Permanent partial disability (PPD)

The laws vary from state to state and every case is different. If you are injured on the job, consult an attorney who has extensive experience with maritime law to understand your rights.