The work that Longshoremen and harbor workers do in Charleston is often dangerous and may lead to serious injuries. When a worker on or near the docks gets injured on the job, it can be devastating to them and their families. After the accident at work, there are many questions that must be answered.
For example; what workers are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA)? If an individual is a covered worker, do they get to choose their own doctor? How will their medical bills be paid? Will they be entitled to disability checks? If so, how much and how often will they receive those disability checks?
A Charleston harbor accident lawyer will be knowledgeable of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If you have suffered an injury, a worker’s compensation lawyer can assist you in getting your benefits and working toward a resolution for your claim.
Understanding the Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is social legislation that was passed in Charleston in the early 1900s. It is designed to protect those who work near the water. People assigned to vessels and ships are under the Jones Act, a different area of the law that is for everyone working on the ships. This includes loading and unloading them, working on bridges, docks, cranes, or crane repair.
Anything else that is close to and associated with the docks along navigable waters is covered by the Charleston Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. It is a system that provides medical and money benefits to someone injured while working in those types of jobs.
There is also consideration given with regard to where the employee was working at the time of their accident. For example, the Act covers those workers engaged in unloading and loading ships as well as those that build, repair, and dismantle ships. In many instances, employees that provide support to the above-referenced work are also covered, however, each case needs to be looked at on a case by case basis.
The LHWCA in Charleston provides that the employer provides the injured worker with medical care and treatment, bi-weekly disability benefits checks for all periods of time the employee is taken out of work by an approved physician, and payment for any permanent total or partial wage loss or scheduled member disability.
It is very important to know that under the LHWCA, an individual is entitled to choose their own doctor to provide their medical treatment. This is not true under the South Carolina state workers’ compensation act which provides that the employer chooses the worker’s doctor.
Choosing the Right Doctor
There are many reasons why someone who is injured on the docks should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Charleston. There are many battles in this kind of case that are unseen by the injured worker, which begin when the injury occurs. Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker can choose their doctor.
It is important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney because many times, the insurance company and the employer try to push the injured worker to one of their doctors. That doctor can potentially be conservative and pro-defense. The insurance company may have the injured worker sign a form that says the physician is the injured worker’s choice, when in fact, the injured worker has no prior relationship or contact with that physician. Once a person chooses the physician or agrees to go to that physician, it is hard to change doctors.
It is important to get the right physician at the beginning; one who treats the person fairly in terms of giving the right type of medical treatment, or the same type of medical treatment the person would receive if they were in the general public. A person wants that same standard of care and not a doctor who may be trying to minimize the treatment.
When an individual is injured at work and is covered by the LHWCA, they are also covered by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. This is known as concurrent jurisdiction. It is important to note that this does not entitle an individual to a “double recovery”, but having coverage under both systems does allow an individual to pick and choose the law that is most favorable to them on any given issue.
Benefits of a Lawyer
The insurance company has an adjuster, a nurse case manager, an investigator, and a lawyer. There is a whole team of people at the insurance company who work to minimize the medical and monetary benefits paid out in the case.
It is important for someone who is injured on the docks to find an advocate or representative that understands the law, the Longshore and Harbor workers’ compensation act, and the issues to represent them.