When you begin your Florida job, the first thing on your mind is likely not which workers’ compensation program applies to you.  However, if you are ever injured on the job, then the workers’ compensation benefits that apply to you will become of utmost importance.  

Given that Florida is the home to many maritime-related jobs, it may be unclear which workers’ compensation program applies to you — the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law?  

In this article, we will discuss how you know which workers’ compensation program applies.  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.

To begin, let us discuss a brief overview of both types of workers’ compensation programs in Florida. 

The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act)

Congress enacted the Longshore Act in the early 1900s.  Currently, it covers maritime and harbor workers, and it covers civilian employees who work on military bases throughout the world. It is administered by the federal government.

The kind of work covered by the Longshore Act includes work on 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.

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Law

In contrast to the Longshore Act, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law is administered by the State of Florida.  The Florida Act requires all employers in the state to obtain a workers’ compensation insurance policy for their employees. Thus, if the Longshore Act does not apply, then an injured worker will be compensated through the workers’ compensation insurance that the employer obtains under the Florida Act. 

With both workers’ compensation programs, 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.  

You Cannot Be Covered Under Both the Longshore Act and Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law

While there are some states that provide “concurrent” jurisdiction for workers’ compensation, in Florida either the Longshore Act or the Florida Act apply, but not both.  That means that Florida is considered an “exclusive” jurisdiction state. 

So, Which Program Applies? 

To understand which workers’ compensation system applies, you need to simply look at the kind of work you do.  In general, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law will apply to you unless you satisfy the requirements of the Longshore Act.  

Thus, 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:

1. Situs Test.  This test relates to an employee’s location.  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 loading, unloading, repairing, building, or dismantling vessels occurs, then you likely meet the “situs” test.

2. Status Test. This test relates to employees 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.

Which Act Provides Better Coverage?

All things considered, you would likely rather be covered by the Longshore Act.  That is because the Longshore Act provides better coverage overall.  

For instance, 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.  

Furthermore, 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 more generous 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.  

Expect lots of attention, passionate representation, and a healthy disdain for big insurance companies. We believe that leads to the best result possible.  Unlike larger firms, your case isn’t handed to a paralegal or assistant to do the heavy lifting. The attorney you meet initially is the one who will be by your side every step of the way. 

We also take pride in creating an atmosphere where every client is treated like family.  Family members stick up for one another no matter what.  You should expect nothing less from the RITE Law workers’ compensation attorneys in Jacksonville.

Without help from the RITE team, making your own personal injury 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.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.