Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Attorneys
Workers’ Compensation doesn’t cover ship crew members or seaman working on any type of floating vessel. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that protects maritime workers in the event of injury while on the job. And the Longshore Attorney’s at The Law Firm of Harris Guidi Rosner Dunlap, P.A. are ready to put their knowledge and extensive experience to work for you.
Suffering an on the job injury can be a trying and difficult experience and often there are many questions that you might have about the process and what to expect. Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). If you do not see the answer to the questions that you might have, feel free to contact us at 904-777-7777 or use our simple form to set up a free consultation
What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Comp Act?
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees workers disabled from injuries on the job and that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel. The LHWCA also provides the payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes, or contributes to, the employee’s death. These benefits are typically paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance company on the employer’s behalf. The term “injury” includes occupational diseases, hearing loss and illnesses arising out of employment.
What should I do if I am injured on the job?
- Seek medical attention for your injury if there is a medical emergency, otherwise
- Notify your supervisor or employer representative prior to seeking medical attention.
- Request authorization for medical treatment (Form LS-1 Request for Examination and/or Treatment).
- Notify both your employer and the District Director of the OWCP(Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs) in writing within 30 days of your injury or disability (Form LS-201 Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death).
- File a written claim with the OWCP within one (1) year after the date of your accident; or, if your employer has been paying compensation benefits, you should file a written claim within one (1) year of the last payment of such compensation (Form LS-203 Employee’s Claim for Compensation).
- If the employee dies, the eligible survivors or their legal representative must file a written claim for death benefits with the OWCP within one (1) year after the death (Form LS-262 Claim for Death Benefits).
What kinds of doctors are allowed to treat my injuries?
You are entitled to select a physician of your choice to treat the effects of your injury. The LHWCA defines the term “physician” to include doctors of medicine (“MD’s”), surgeons, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, and osteopathic practitioners within the scope of their practice as defined by state law. It is important to select a physician whose specialty is appropriate to your injury.
How do I change doctors?
Once you have selected a treating physician for your injury, you may not change doctors without the permission of the employer or insurance company or the OWCP. In general, if specialty care is required for your injury, your treating physician will refer you to the appropriate specialist. If the employer or insurance company objects to the referral or to your request for a change of physician, the Longshore District Directormay order a change of treating physician if good cause exists for the change. The employer or insurance company may also request that your treating physician be changed for good cause. Again, such change will be made by the District Director after considering the reasons from both sides.
What happens when there is a dispute about medical treatment?
If a dispute arises concerning the necessity of treatment, the frequency of treatment, the type of treatment provided, or the amount of fees billed, the OWCP District Director will attempt to resolve the dispute informally. If the parties cannot agree on an acceptable result, then, at the request of any party, the District Director will refer the dispute for a formal hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
My employer’s insurance company has scheduled a medical appointment for me with a doctor I don’t know. Do I have to go?
The insurance carrier may schedule a medical evaluation with a doctor of its choice at a reasonable distance from your residence. If you refuse to attend a medical examination scheduled by your employer or its insurance carrier, your compensation may be suspended until the medical examination is completed. The OWCP also has the authority to schedule a medical examination, and the employee must attend or risk suspension of his/her compensation.
Who pays my disability benefits and medical bills?
Your employer, through its insurance carrier or claims administrator, is responsible for providing the appropriate disability benefits and medical treatment for the work-related injury.
I have not been paid any benefits and my claim is denied. What can I do?
Often the insurance claims adjuster denies the claim because he/she does not have documents necessary to pay benefits. You may contact the claims adjuster to ask what additional information the adjuster needs to accept and pay your claim. If you disagree with the reasons for the denial, you may also write to the OWCP giving the reasons why you disagree. You should also provide the OWCP with documents to support your claim, including your statement of how you were injured, your earnings records or wage statements, and medical reports from your doctor. You should send copies of all your documents and correspondence to both the OWCP and the insurance claims adjuster. Keep copies of all documents, forms, reports, and correspondence. If you do not know what documents are required, you may contact your local Longshore district office for guidance.
Why would I need the services of an attorney?
To make sure that you get all the benefits that you deserve – such as:
- Assist you in preparing and filing claims on time
- Answer your questions
- Keep you appraised as to the benefits that you are eligible for
- Challenging any claim denials
- Negotiate settlement if appropriate
What will it cost me to hire an attorney?
All attorney fees must to be approved by the OWCP or the courts as reasonable. The amount of the fee will depend upon the complexity of the case, the time spent by the lawyer, and the result obtained.