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Galveston Longshore and Harbor Workers Accident Lawyer

Working on the docks is one of the most important jobs a person could do. The country’s economy depends on the rapid movement of goods through its ports. Stevedores, longshoreman, and other dock workers also have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

If you suffer an injury while working on land in a harbor or port, a federal law provides valuable benefits. However, accessing them can sometimes be difficult. A local maritime injury attorney who represents dock workers could help you get the benefits you have earned. Contact a Galveston longshore and harbor workers accident lawyer if you suffered injuries on the job.

Working on the Docks is High Risk

Harbors and docks are busy places, with many activities going on simultaneously. Crane operators are loading and unloading ships while other workers might be performing repairs on the vessel. Trucks and heavy equipment are everywhere, some of the cargo is toxic or combustible, much of the work is done outdoors in potentially severe weather, and the environment is noisy and wet.

It is hardly surprising that longshore and harbor workers frequently get injured at work. Some common injuries among dock workers include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Back injuries from heavy lifting
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Burns
  • Illnesses caused by exposure to toxins
  • Amputations
  • Head injuries from strikes by falling objects
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cancers related to exposure to carcinogens

When a dock worker suffers a work-related injury or illness, they are entitled to benefits under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). However, employers do not always support workers in claiming their benefits, and the claims process is complicated. A Galveston LHWCA attorney could help a worker submit and pursue a claim.

Qualifying for Coverage Under the LHWCA

According to 33 United States Code § 903, the LHWCA covers workers in the shipping industry who do not work at sea, including dockworkers and shipyard employees. Someone seeking benefits under the program must pass two tests to qualify for benefits, called the status test and the situs test. A Galveston attorney could review an injured worker’s circumstances and determine whether they meet both tests.

Status Test

The LHWCA insurer will determine whether a claimant has status as a maritime worker. Longshore workers, truckers who transport shipping containers to and from the docks, shipbuilders, stevedores, and those who repair ships usually qualify.

However, people whose work is primarily in an office do not qualify, even if their employment involves shipping. In addition, the law excludes workers in aquaculture, people who build or repair recreational vessels less than 65 feet long, and the captain and crew of navigable vessels.

Situs Test

The location of the employee’s work must be near or adjacent to a body of navigable water. The law is not clear about the meaning of adjacent, but courts have held that a job site within one mile of navigable water meets the situs test.

Obtaining Benefits Under the LHWCA

Like the Workers’ Compensation program that covers workers in other industries, the LHWCA provides a partial wage if a work-related injury prevents a claimant from doing their job. The program also provides free medical care, reimbursement for transportation to medical appointments, disability benefits, and death benefits to worker’s family in the event of a fatal accident.

Benefits are available under the LHWCA regardless of whether fault for the accident rests with the worker, their employer, or someone else. An injured worker must notify their employer within 30 days of the injury and must file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor within one year. After the worker files the claim, their employer has 14 days to dispute it.

Under the LHWCA, a Galveston worker can see their own doctor, although the employer could also recommend a medical professional. The worker has no obligation to seek an initial evaluation from the doctor the employer prefers but seeing a healthcare provider soon after the injury or onset of illness is critical. A lawyer could use the medical record to prove the condition is related to the worker’s employment and the symptoms they complain of are real.

Pursue Compensation With a Galveston LHWCA Attorney

If you were hurt while working on the docks or at a harbor, a federal program offers you valuable benefits. However, the rules can be complicated, and your employer might not offer you the best advice about filing a claim.

A Galveston longshore and harbor workers accident lawyer has substantial experience managing workers’ claims under the LHWCA. Call the Schechter, Shaffer & Harris team as soon as you experience an incident or recognize a work-related injury.

SMS Legal

SMS Legal N/a
1908 Strand

Galveston, TX 77550
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(409) 377-6970