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Using Longshore as a Defense to Jurisdiction in New Jersey

New Jersey Excludes Longshoremen from Coverage.

New Jersey is one of the few exclusionary states: pursuant to New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act, specifically section 36 (N.J.S.A. 34:15-36), if a petitioner has claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act she can not make a claim for benefits under New Jersey’s Act. The state judge lacks have the discretion to decide whether or not the Federal claim is valid. Even if the state judge could, once the claimant accepts Longshore benefits, the New Jersey court loses jurisdiction as per Section 36.

Section 36 of the New Jersey Act sets forth definitions for eligibility for benefits, and specifically carves our “anyone eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act” by defining employees as

any natural person exclusive of . . . employees eligible under the federal “Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act,” 44 Stat. 1424 (33 U.S.C.s.901 et seq.), for benefits payable with respect to accidental death or injury, or occupational disease or infection.

Therefore, understanding the basics of how jursidiction is established for a Lonsghore claim is essential in defending cases in New Jersey, with its long coastline, many maritime employments, and one of the largest and most active ports in the world.

How is jurisdiction established under the LHWCA?

The Longshore and Harbors Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) covers longshore/harbor workers and other “maritime” workers. The Act has also been applied to certain other workers under the Defense Base Act.

“Status” and “situs.”

The LHWCA set forth the requirements for coverage. “Status” refers to the nature of the work performed; “situs” refers to the place of performance.


The employee claiming benefits under the LHWCA must be engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, including any harbor-worker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship-breaker. There are specific exclusion which apply to status.


The jurisdictional trigger for a claim under the LHWCA is an injury upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel). Jurisdictional questions based on issues of situs are fact-sensitive.

Download the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Law Handbook

Download Our Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Law Handbook

This is the 2023 edition of Gregory Lois’ Handbook for defending Longshore and Defense Base Act claims. This “Go To” Handbook covers the basics of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act with references to the LHWCA, practical tips for defending claims brought under the Act, and review of recent relevant case law. This 2023 edition contains references to the latest rate and benefit information.

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Learn More About Longshore Compensation Defense at LOIS

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. The LHWCA is a federal statute designed to provide medical benefits and compensation for lost income to longshoremen, harbor workers, dock men, ship repairmen, ship builders, and other maritime workers who are injured during the course of their employment.

In the event that a work-related injury or accident results in the death of an employee covered under the LHWCA, the Act also provides death benefits to the decedent's eligible survivors. We analyze whether Longshore jurisdiction applies, defend claims, and pursue lien recovery.

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