Working on a pier, wharf, terminal, marine railway or dry dock can be dangerous, and if an injury occurs, you could be out of work for an extended period. Do you know how to seek compensation for medical expenses and disability?
The experienced Lafayette longshore injury lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat are here to assist you. While each case depends upon its own facts, we routinely recover Hundreds of Thousands of dollars for purely Longshore workers who have injured their backs.
We have extensive knowledge of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which may provide for disability compensation and payment of your medical bills. We are also prepared to appeal if your claim is denied.
The founding partners of our firm, Rusty Galloway and John Jefcoat, are both natives of Lafayette. Jefcoat is also a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100.
Schedule your free consultation today. Call: (337) 984-8020
Is Your Injury Covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
The LHWCA applies to maritime workers who spend most of their time on shore, including longshoremen and others engaged in longshore operations, and harbor workers, such as shipbuilders, ship repairmen and ship breakers.
You may be covered by the LHWCA if:
- A significant part of your work involves marine transport or the water. Truck drivers who transport shipping containers away from ships would qualify.
- You must work on, near or adjacent to navigable water. If you spend part of your workday on a pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal or other place used by an employer for the loading, unloading, fixing or building of a vessel, you should be covered.
Under the LHWCA, employees can recover compensation for injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment. Compensation may also be recovered for diseases or infections that naturally arise out of employment, such as:
- Pulmonary diseases
- Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
- Asthma caused by exposure to chemicals
- Skin diseases
The law also covers injuries caused by the willful acts of third parties that are directed against employees.
Employees Not Covered by the LHWCA
An amendment to the LHWCA excludes employees in certain jobs if they were covered by their state’s workers’ compensation system. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Employees in security, secretarial, clerical or data processing jobs
- Employees of clubs, camps, recreational operations, restaurants, museums or retail outlets
- Employees of a marina who are not engaged in construction or expansion
- People who are doing temporary work on the premises of maritime employers
- People who do aquaculture work
- Those employed by the U.S. government or a state or foreign government
The experienced Lafayette longshore injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat can help determine if your injury may be covered under the law. If you have a valid claim, we are prepared to guide you through each step of the legal process.
Compensation Under the LHWCA
If your LHWCA claim is approved, you should also be eligible for compensation for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, including:
- Hospital treatment
- Prescription medications
- Diagnostic tests
- Physical therapy
- Prosthetic devices
- Hearing aids
- Attendant care
- Cost of traveling to treatment, such as mileage, parking and tolls
You should receive compensation for as long as you need medical care. You may choose your doctor. However, your choices are limited to an approved list of doctors provided by the Secretary of Labor. Once you choose a doctor, you cannot make a change without consent from your employer, its insurance carrier or the deputy commissioner.
The LHWCA also provides for disability benefits.
Temporary Total Disability
If you cannot do any work while recovering, you may receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW), subject to minimum and maximum rates set by the Department of Labor (DOL). The AWW is calculated by dividing the employee’s average weekly earnings by 52. Temporary total disability is paid out for as long as you cannot work.
You may also be eligible for total disability benefits if you lose your hands, arms, feet, legs or eyes – or any two of these body systems.
Temporary Partial Disability
Some injuries allow you to work, but in a different capacity, such as a different job with the same employer. Eligible employees receive two-thirds of their lost earning capacity – two-thirds of the difference between your AWW and the amount you earn after the injury.
Permanent Total Disability
If you have a permanent total disability, you should receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage for as long as you are disabled. Your amount of compensation may be adjusted each year based on changes in the minimum and maximum rates set by the DOL.
Permanent Partial Disability
Scheduled permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are listed in § 908(c) of the LHWCA, including permanent impairment in an injured worker’s arms, hands, fingers, eyes, ears, feet or toes. Scheduled PPD benefits equal 66 and two-thirds percent of your AWW for a certain number of weeks, depending on your disability.
If an injury is not listed in the LHWCA, you may receive two-thirds of your loss of earning capacity. This is determined by calculating the difference between your AWW at the time of the injury and what you can earn after the injury.
You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation if you cannot return to the same job as before. This could include:
- Vocational assessment
- Skills testing
- Job development
- Job placement assistance
- Modification of a previous job
If you want to request vocational rehabilitation, you or your attorney can contact the Longshore Rehabilitation Specialist in the district office nearest you.
Obtaining full compensation can be very difficult without an attorney’s help, particularly as claims are often settled as opposed to insurance carriers paying benefits for an extended period. The licensed attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat are experienced and aggressive negotiators with a proven track record.
Free initial consultation. Ph: (337) 984-8020.
What to Do After Suffering an Injury at Work
It is important to report a work injury to your employer right away. Technically, you have 30 days from the date of the injury to notify your employer. However, there is no reason to wait, as the sooner you report the injury the sooner the claims process can get started.
Another danger of waiting to report an injury is your employer or its insurance carrier may dispute the cause of the injury. If you wait days or weeks to report an injury, they may claim you were injured outside of work. The entire process could take longer because you may need to dispute claims about the cause of your injury.
If you do not provide notice of the injury within 30 days, you could lose the right to seek compensation. There are exceptions that may allow you seek compensation, but you should not count on those exceptions applying to your situation.
There is also a one-year deadline for filing an LHWCA claim. However, this deadline may not matter if your claim is approved. If your claim is denied, or you think you are not receiving enough compensation, you can file a claim.
Filing a claim can be complex and small errors could result in a denial. Many injured longshore workers benefit from an attorney’s assistance, particularly after a claim denial.
What Happens if My Claim is Denied?
Sometimes claims are denied because they are missing required documents. In these situations, your lawyer should be able to help you obtain and submit what you need.
However, even after you do that, your employer or insurance carrier may deny your claim. If this happens, you will receive a Notice of Controversion of Right to Compensation explaining why your claim was denied.
You or your attorney can contact the district office handling your claim to challenge the denial. You must provide documentation supporting your challenge, such as:
- Earnings records
- Wage statements
- Medical records
There will be an informal conference at the district office to resolve the dispute. However, any written recommendation from the office is not binding for either party.
The next step in an appeal is for your lawyer to request a formal hearing before a DOL Administrative Law Judge by submitting Form LS-18.
At any point during this process, your attorney may attempt to negotiate a settlement.
One of the most important decisions you can make after a claim denial is choosing an attorney to represent you. You need strong evidence to overturn a denial and our Lafayette longshore injury attorneys know how to strengthen a claim for compensation.
For more than 25 years, our firm has been advocating for injury victims in Lafayette and the surrounding areas. We are prepared to explain your rights and potential options in a free initial consultation.
Call Our Lafayette Longshore Injury Lawyers for Assistance
You could be out of work for a while as you recover from your injury. Compensation can help you and your family stay afloat as you wait to get back on the job.
However, the process of pursuing compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act can be complex and time-consuming, particularly if your claim is denied. That is why you should strongly consider meeting with a licensed attorney to see how he or she may be able to assist you.
The attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat understand the many challenges that longshore workers face after an injury. We are ready to take your call to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to help. We have a proven record of securing compensation for injury victims. Our attorneys can manage the legal process on your behalf, as you have enough to deal with during this difficult time.
Galloway Jefcoat. Free consultation. Ph: (337) 984-8020.