The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides benefits for on-the-job injuries and occupational diseases incurred by longshore, harbor, and other maritime workers on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas. Various other statutes have extended the LHWCA to cover other classes of workers. These are: The District of Columbia Workmen’s Compensation Act, The Defense Base Act, The Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Workers covered by a state Workers’ Compensation Act are excluded from the LHWCA.
The LHWCA provides medical benefits, compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitative services. Additionally, should an employee suffer a fatal injury, the LHWCA provides for survivor benefits and the payment of reasonable funeral expenses. Eligible survivors include not only spouses and children, but also siblings, parents, grandparents, and grandchildren. However, the existence of a widowed spouse and child would preclude the receipt of benefits by the other beneficiaries.
A compensable injury includes physical as well as psychological conditions.
Along with the requirement that such an injury arise out of and in the course of employment, the injured worker must be an “employee” and the injury must occur on the navigable waters of the United States. An “employee,” per the LHWCA, includes harbor workers, shipbuilders, longshoremen, those engaged in traditional maritime occupations, and others. Among the “employee” exclusions, the LHWCA specifically excludes officers or employees of the United States and employees whose injuries were intentionally self-inflicted.