Shipping and oceangoing commerce have long been an integral part of life in South Carolina as well as a critical driver of regional prosperity. However, the grueling demands faced by laborers in this realm can and often do result in debilitating injuries and sometimes worse.
Fortunately, a framework designed to provide for those who experience such harm does exist, and a Mount Pleasant longshore harbor and workers’ compensation act lawyer can help victims obtain the resources so essential to their recovery. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can provide peace of mind and clarity regarding your future.
Federal Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
As provided by 33 USC §901 et seq., the federal statute is known as the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides a structure intended to compensate offshore workers injured, disabled, or sickened during the course of their job duties on navigable waters throughout the United States.
Eligible laborers include those employed on a dry dock, marine railway, pier, wharf, or other area engaged in the repair, building, loading or unloading of seafaring vessels. The Act does not cover clerical or similar employees at such facilities, however, nor does it apply to those who repair or build recreational boats smaller than 65 feet in length. Common job descriptions of covered employees include:
- Dock workers
- Repair personnel
- Winch operators
- Warehouse staff
- Pile drivers
- Those constructing sewer outfalls, piers, and wharves
- Those working in facilities aiding commerce and navigation
Eligible LHWCA Injuries
It should be noted that compensation under the LHWCA can be obtained only when the injury at issue occurred near, on or adjacent to a body of navigable water. This could encompass tasks undertaken on wharves, piers or in shipping terminals, even if the job was performed in a location several hundred yards removed from the water itself.
Typical scenarios prompting an employee claim under the LHWCA could include:
- Accidental injury
- Injuries stemming from willful actions of a third-party against a covered employee
- Aggravation of pre-existing injuries or illnesses
- Harm resulting from unsafe conditions on the job
- Infection and disease arising from onsite conditions
Any type of disability, injury or illness that develops during the course of this type of work or that is related to assigned tasks can give rise to a presumption that the harm was in fact caused by the claimant’s employment.
Pursuing a Claim
Anyone considering filing a claim under the FHWCA needs to understand that there is a series of procedural requirements which must be strictly heeded in order to obtain compensation. Affected employees or their dependents have an obligation to provide written notice to the employer as well as the U.S. Department of Labor no later than 30 days after the injury or fatal event, or within 30 days of awareness of the connection between the harm and the claimant’s employment status.
In cases involving diseases allegedly caused by virtue of employment, the notice period may be extended for up to a year. Further, lack of written notice provided by the injured party will not prevent a claim from succeeding, provided the employer or its insurer can be shown to have had knowledge of the events in question.
It may also be possible for the notice requirement to be excused if it is demonstrated that the employer did not suffer any undue prejudice. In all cases, however, the assistance of a Mount Pleasant federal longshore harbor and workers’ compensation act lawyer can prove invaluable when it comes to untangling relevant rules and regulations.
Navigating the Complex Realm of Harbor Worker Injury Law
Benefit programs for those harmed while employed along South Carolina’s navigable waters represent an area of the law with which many attorneys are simply unfamiliar.
If you have been injured or suffered serious losses while engaged in work of this nature. A Mount Pleasant longshore and harbor workers’ compensation act lawyer can provide you insights on how to proceed with your claim.