A massive explosion inside a tug barge at a Mississippi shipyard has killed two sub-contractors.

The accident occurred at the VT Halter Marine shipbuilding facility in Escatawpa. According to Gulflife.com, the two men were cleaning and prepping a tank inside the barge for painting, when there was a sudden explosion. The two victims were aged 25 years and 15 years. At least two other subcontractors who were in the vicinity sustained serious injuries, and were rushed to the University of South Alabama Medical Center’s Regional Burn Center in Mobile.

What is the LHWCA?

Typically, injuries sustained during work in a shipyard, ship repair or ship building facility may be covered under a separate body of laws, called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  The LHWCA extends protection to maritime workers, who are not covered under the Jones Act.

The LHWCA works very similarly to state Workers’ Compensation laws.  The bigger similarity between the two is that under both, a worker does not have to prove that the employer was at fault to receive compensation. Injured longshoremen and dock workers are eligible for a set of benefits, including medical expenses and lost wages. They may not be able to file an injury lawsuit against the employer. However, it may be possible to file a third party lawsuit against equipment manufacturers and other parties who might have contributed to the injury.

Who can Handle my LHWCA Claim?

Typically, LHWCA claims will be handled by a maritime lawyer who also represents Jones Act seamen. Although LHWCA works similarly to Workers’ Compensation, it’s important to file your claim under the right laws. Even within a harbor or port, there may be employees who work for the port, but are not maritime employees, and may not be covered under LHWCA. These people may be covered under state Workers’ Compensation laws. It’s therefore, very important that you file your claim under the right laws with the help of a maritime attorney.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent longshoremen, dock workers, shipyard and ship repair workers, and other maritime workers who qualify under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, in injury and wrongful death litigation.