Florida provides many maritime-related jobs to its citizens. As such, many people have come to our firm with the same question: Which workers’ compensation program am I under, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law?  

Accordingly, in this blog, we will answer that question for you. Specifically, this blog will give you an overview of the difference between the two workers’ compensation laws, and how you can determine which law is the one that applies to you.  

If you have additional questions pertaining to your own personal circumstances, then we invite you to contact the compensation lawyers for longshore & harbor workers in Jacksonville, FL – RITE Law. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so call today. 

1. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The first type of workers’ compensation program we need to discuss is the federal program called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, also known as the Longshore Act. Congress enacted the law at the beginning of the 20th century, and it now covers maritime workers and civilian employees who work on military bases throughout the world.

The workers covered by the Longshore Act are those employees who do work in a maritime occupation on the navigable waters of the U.S. or in adjoining waterfront areas. The kind of work covered includes those involved in longshoring operations and all types of harbor work. A covered harbor worker includes those who repair, build, or break down vessels.  Interestingly, the Longshore Act does not cover captains or crew members of a ship.

2. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Law

In contrast to the Longshore Act, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law is administered by the State of Florida. It requires all employers in the State of Florida to obtain a workers’ compensation insurance policy for their employees.  

Accordingly, an injured worker will be compensated through the workers’ compensation insurance that the employer obtains during the time the worker is unable to work due to injury. 

The Florida law is specific as to the amount you receive in benefits based upon your injuries and your continued ability to work. Of course, as is common with any workers’ compensation program, you do not need to prove any fault for your workplace injury. You only need to show that your injury occurred when working in the course of your job duties.  

Almost all occupational injuries and diseases are covered. However, if you suffer from a mental disorder (such as depression) that does not come from a physical workplace injury, then it is likely that the Florida workers’ compensation law will not provide benefits for that disability.

3. Can I Be Covered Under Both The Longshore Act and Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. There are some states that provide “concurrent” jurisdiction for workers’ compensation, meaning that the state will allow both the state workers’ compensation plan and the Longshore Act to work together in providing appropriate benefits.  That, however, is not the case in the State of Florida.  

Florida is an “exclusive” jurisdiction state. That means that in Florida you get either the Longshore Act coverage or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law coverage, but not both.

4. Which Workers’ Compensation Law Would Apply to Me?  

To know which workers’ compensation system applies to you, you need to simply determine what type of job you have. In general, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law will apply to you unless you satisfy the requirements of the Longshore Act.  

To be eligible for the Longshore Act coverage, you would need to have a job that satisfies the so-called “status” and “situs” tests.  Those tests are as follows:

A. Status Test This test deals with those doing “maritime” work.  In general, if your work has something to do with water, or maritime transport, then you are likely covered under the Longshore Act. For example, a longshoreman clearly is covered by the Act, yet an employee of a marina who performs only office work will not meet the “status” test.

B. Situs Test This test deals with the location where you work. Only maritime workers who work on, near, or adjacent to navigable water are covered under the Longshore Act. For example, if you work on piers, wharves, dry docks, or terminals where work loading, unloading, repairing, building, or dismantling vessels occurs, then you likely meet the “situs” test.

5. Is Longshore Act or Florida Law Better Coverage?

Generally speaking, you would rather be covered by the Longshore Act whenever possible. That is because the Longshore Act provides better coverage overall.  

For example, the Longshore Act allows you to go to the doctor of your choosing. Under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, however, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier limits your choice of doctors.  

Moreover, the Longshore Act provides compensation for “permanent partial” disability benefits.  The Florida law only provides for “temporary total” and “temporary partial” disability benefits, but not “permanent partial” benefits.  

Because Longshore Act benefits are typically greater than Florida’s workers’ compensation benefits, you would do well to obtain the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will work hard to demonstrate that you should be eligible for Longshore Act benefits rather than Florida workers’ compensation coverage.

Get the Help of Compensation Lawyers for Longshore & Harbor Workers in Jacksonville

At RITE Law, we started the firm for one reason – to help those in Florida and elsewhere have the resources of a firm that was big enough to fight but small enough to care. At Rudolph, Israel, Tucker & Ellis (RITE law), we have the resources and experience to go to trial when it is necessary, and we have the wisdom to advise you appropriately.  

Without help from the compensation lawyers for longshore & harbor workers in Jacksonville at RITE Law, making Longshore Act claims can be very difficult. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.