Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

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The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 901950, commonly referred to as the "Longshore Act" or "LHWCA" is the statutory workers' compensation scheme, first enacted in 1927, that covers certain maritime workers, including most dock workers and maritime workers not otherwise covered by the Jones Act. In addition, Congress has extended the LHWCA to cover non-appropriated fund employees (i.e. AAFES employees), Outer Continental Shelf workers, and U.S. government contractors working in foreign countries.

The LHWCA is administered by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation, a division of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs of the United States Department of Labor.

Generally speaking, a worker covered by the LHWCA is entitled to temporary compensation benefits of 2/3 his average weekly wage while undergoing medical treatment, and then either to a scheduled award for injury to body parts enumerated in 33 U.S.C. § 908(c) or 2/3 of the workers' loss of earning capacity. More specifically, the LHWCA entitles a worker to compensation for medical bills, permanent total disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, temporary partial disability, non-scheduled permanent partial disability, permanent partial disability for retirees, and rehabilitation.

In 1972, the Longshore Act was amended to extend coverage landward for maritime workers. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Longshore Act did not supplant state workers’ compensation laws, but supplemented them (Sun Ship v. Pennsylvania, 447 U.S. 715 (1980)). In 1984, Congress amended the Longshore Act, but did not invalidate Sun Ship, so concurrent jurisdiction was preserved.


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