The law of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation is unique to workers on docks and harbors. The Charleston Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is the only remedy available for those workers. Those who are not on the docks or assigned to a vessel can seek remedy through the Jones Act.
To best understand how this act is relevant in your Charleston workers’ compensation case as a dock and harbor worker, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced compensation lawyer in Charleston can build a claim to help produce a successful recovery on your behalf.
Elements of the Claim
The people who work on the docks fall under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. There is also a concurrent jurisdiction which means an injured worker has a state workers’ compensation case and also a Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation case.
The law makes it very clear that a person cannot make a double recovery; but it also makes it clear that the person can use both acts to get a full recovery.
For example, a workers compensation lawyer would exercise the right to choice of position under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. However, if someone has a back injury and is able to return to their work under the Longshore Act, that law only applies with back injuries.
It only provides permanent disability benefits for someone who suffered partial or total wage loss. Under the state act, even if the person is able to return to work and suffers no wage loss, they can move to a scheduled number injury award and still be able to be paid some money for their impairment and disability as a result of the back injury.
There is an overlap in the two systems and the experienced longshore and harbor workers’ attorney and state workers’ compensation attorney can advise the injured worker to obtain the best benefit under each of the acts and to move back and forth between them to provide the maximum benefits available under the law.
Establishment of the Act
The federal government understands the importance of men and women who work in these jobs on the docks and in those areas. The government wanted to provide protection through remedial benefits at the beginning of the 20th century as workers’ compensation plans were put together in the states. There was some talk about having a federal system to cover all states.
In response to that, the 50 states made changes to the law and created workers’ compensation systems. The federal government thought that the men and women working these dangerous jobs needed federal protection that is universal for someone working on a dock in California, New York, or South Carolina.
They passed the law and made a good system that provides medical benefits and weekly checks for someone who is out of work while they are recovering. In most cases, a disability award compensates the person for the injuries they sustained.
Every system has different requirements. In this system, the injured worker has 30 days to report their injury. For example, there is a notice requirement of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The notice under the state act in South Carolina is 90 days.
Whenever there is any type of accident or event, even if the injury is minor, the worker should report the injury right away. The best practice is to provide notice right away. The best notice, although not necessarily required under all acts, is a written notice. It should be prepared with somebody present while the injured person delivers it to a safety director or supervisor. That way they cannot conveniently claim the worker did not submit notice of the injury.
Once the worker notifies the employer about an injury, then the other side must make a decision whether to accept or deny the case. If they deny the case, the person goes to the Department of Labor to file the claim. The person should have an informal conference to get a decision on the issues being denied.
From there, the person moves on to an administrative law judge; whereas under the state act, the person would file directly with the industrial commission and try to get the issues adjudicated there.