Qualifying for Benefits under the Longshore Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers employees in traditional maritime occupations such as longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers. 33 U.S.C. § 902(3). The term “Longshoreman” typically refers to maritime workers responsible for unloading or loading ships and who are not a master or member of the ship’s crew. Seamen (masters or members of a crew of any vessel) are specifically excluded from coverage under the LHWCA. The injuries must occur on the navigable waters of the United States or in the adjoining areas, including piers, docks, terminals, wharves, and those areas used in loading and unloading vessels. Non-maritime employees may also be covered if they perform their work on navigable water and their injuries occur there.

Who else qualifies for benefits under the LHWCA?

Congress extended the LHWCA to include other types of employment. Employees covered by these extensions are entitled to the same benefits, and their claims are handled in the same way as Longshore Act claims. The following are the extensions of the LHWCA:

  • Defense Base Act- applying to contract employment at overseas military bases of the United States and to employees of U.S. government contractors working outside the United States in public work projects or in national defense and military operations;
  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act – applying to employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States in the exploration and development of natural resources, for example, off-shore oil drilling rigs;
  • Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act – applying to civilian employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities of the Armed Forces (for example, military base exchanges and morale, welfare, and recreational facilities).

​Who is specifically excluded from benefits under the LHWCA?

The LHWCA specifically excludes from eligibility for benefits the following individuals:

  • Seamen (masters or members of a crew of any vessel);
  • Employees of the United States government or of any state or foreign government;
  • Employees whose injuries were caused solely by their intoxication;
  • Employees whose injuries were due to their own willful intention to harm themselves or others.

The LHWCA also excludes the following individuals if they are covered by a state workers’ compensation law (33 U.S.C. § 902[3][A]-[3][F]):

  • Individuals employed exclusively to perform office clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing work;
  • Individuals employed by a club, camp, recreational operation, restaurant, museum, or retail outlet;
  • Individuals employed by a marina and who are not engaged in construction, replacement, or expansion of such marina (except for routine maintenance);
  • Individuals who (A) are employed by suppliers, transporters, or vendors, (B) are temporarily doing business on the premises of a maritime employer, and (C) are not engaged in work normally performed by employees of that employer covered under the Act;
  • Aquaculture workers;
  • Individuals employed to build any recreational vessel under sixty-five feet in length, or individuals employed to repair any recreational vessel or dismantle any part of a recreational vessel in connection with such repair;
  • Small vessel workers if exempt by certification of the Secretary of Labor under certain conditions.

Does Longshore Coverage Apply?

We defend employers and carriers in workers’ compensation claims arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act in litigation before the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Office of Administrative Law Judges.

We analyze whether Longshore jurisdiction applies, defend claims, and pursue lien recovery. Contact us.

Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC and dedicates his practice to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016-2019 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@loisllc.com