What happens if you are a longshoreman, and you get injured or contract COVID-19 in the course of your employment? The first thing you would do is file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. But, what kinds of benefits can you expect at the end of the day?
In this article, we will cover the various benefits available to you under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. It is important that you know what lies ahead because an injury that keeps you out of work for any length of time can create a lot of stress. You need to know whether you will be able to have enough compensation to help you pay the rent, get your family the things they need, and still put food on the table.
If you have additional questions pertaining to your own personal circumstances after reviewing this article, then we invite you to contact the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Comp lawyers in Jacksonville, FL – RITE Law. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. Remember, we provide a free case evaluation, so call today.
How Do I Know that the Longshore Act Applies to Me?
If you are a private-sector employee engaged in longshore, harbor, or other maritime occupations on or adjacent to the navigable waters of the U.S., then you are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act).
Typically, the federal government typically plays a very limited role in workers’ compensation insurance. Indeed, the federal government only covers only certain classes of private-sector workers. Fortunately, longshore and harbor workers are one of those select classes of private-sector workers for which the federal government administers workers’ compensation.
That is fortunate because, on balance, the benefits under the Longshore Act are generous compared to other plans. Next, we will delve into some of those benefits.
Longshore Act Benefits
The Longshore Act provides various types of coverage for a work-related injury. As you will see below, the benefits encompass coverage for medical costs, long-term disability, lost wages, and survivors’ benefits for the families of workers who suffer a fatal accident on the job.
1. Coverage of Medical Costs
The Longshore Act workers’ compensation program covers the cost of any related medical treatment for a work-related injury. Of course, the benefits have no deductibles, copayments, or any other out-of-pocket costs for you.
Further, prescription medication and any required medical procedures are fully covered, again at no cost to you. You may be pleased to hear that the cost of traveling back and forth to doctor’s appointments and to other medical treatments is paid through the Longshore Act workers’ compensation insurance.
With regard to using your own doctor, the Longshore Act program allows you to select your own treating doctor provided that your doctor has not run into trouble with the Longshore Act workers’ compensation program in the past.
2. Disability Benefits
If a work injury renders you totally or partially disabled, the Longshore Act steps in to provide you with payments to partially cover your lost wages. These disability payments are based on your pre-injury wages.
The way that the Longshore Act calculates the disability payment is by first finding your average weekly wage (AWW). Then the Longshore Act program will guarantee a minimum benefit of 50% of your AWW to a maximum benefit that is equal to 200% of the AWW.
In addition, these disability payments – similar to all workers’ compensation benefits – are not subject to federal income taxes.
Finally, as an added plus, Longshore Act benefits are adjusted for wage inflation annually. That is a benefit that most state workers’ compensation plans do not provide.
A) Disability – Total
If you are unable to earn your pre-injury wage because of the work-related injury or illness, then you are considered totally disabled. The benefit for totally disabled individuals is two-thirds of your wage at the time of the injury or illness. Total disability benefits are paid to you throughout your lifetime or until you are no longer totally disabled.
B) Disability – Partial
If you are able to return to work after an injury, but at a lower wage than what your wage was at the time of the injury, then you are considered partially disabled. If you are a case of temporary partial disability, then you will receive two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wage and your current actual earnings.
In the case of permanent partial disability (such as losing a limb), then the Longshore Act has a specific benefits table that lists the exact benefit. In such cases, you can receive your wage at work and also receive permanent partial disability compensation.
Notably, if an illness does not manifest until after you retire, you are still eligible to receive disability benefits after retirement, usually at two-thirds your AWW.
3. Vocational Rehabilitation
If, because of your injuries, you require vocational rehabilitation services to assist you in returning to work, those costs are fully covered under the Longshore Act. You are also eligible for an extra $25 per week, in connection with your rehabilitation.
4. Survivors Benefits
Finally, if you suffer a fatal injury on the job, your family will be provided for. Specifically, the Longshore Act will pay your surviving spouse and minor children. Normally, benefits for a surviving spouse will last until the spouse passes away, or remarries. Benefits for minor children will typically last until they reach the age of 18, age 23 if a full-time student, or for the life of a child with a disability.
Get Help for Your Claim from Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Comp Lawyers in Jacksonville
Our RITE Law attorneys focus on a Longshore Act practice. That experience can be invaluable if you make a Longshore Act claim, particularly in a new area such as COVID-19 illness. 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 RITE Law Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Comp lawyers in Jacksonville, 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.