Recently in Longshore & Harbor Workers' Act (LHWA) Category

March 15, 2011

Compensation to Seamen (Jones Act & Admiralty) for Personal Injuries

The U.S. Congress has not adopted a workers' compensation statute applicable to seamen. This contrasts with federal workers' compensation statutes created for federal workers (FECA) and longshore and harbor workers (LHWCA).

The differences between the remedies available under the federal statutes and those available to injured seamen are many and substantial. This blog briefly summarizes the remedies available to seamen who become sick or injured during their employment aboard vessels engaged in navigation on navigable waters.

Injured seamen have the potential for remedies under three different systems. The first is maintenance and cure. In terms of available remedies, this system most closely resembles state and federal workers' compensation systems. Maintenance is lost wages and cure is medical care. The benefits are supposed to be provided without regard to fault and last until the injured seaman has reached maximum medical cure or maximum medical improvement. Maintenance and cure benefits are paid by the employer.

The second system provides for compensation against the vessel owner under general maritime law. This is a negligence-based system. Vessel owners owe seamen a duty of providing a seaworthy vessel. To be compensated under this system, seamen must prove that an unseaworthy condition played a substantial part in bringing about or actually causing the injury, and that the injury was either a direct result or a reasonable probable consequence of the unseaworthiness.

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December 9, 2010

Doctor Selection Under Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA)

33 U.S.C.A. 907 provides that employers are responsible for furnishing medical care to LHW for so long as the nature of the injuries and process of recovery may require. This sounds good for injured workers, but doesn't always work out that way.

The key to the successful medical outcome for any injured longshore and harbor worker is the quaility of care provided. Sadly, successful recovery is not always an employer's primary concern. Often, limiting claim costs is the foremost concern. When this is so, the quality of medical care may be compromised.

Under the LHWCA, injured workers are entitled to medical care and, in most cases, some wage loss benefits. The extent of those wage loss benefits is largely determined by the medical opinions given by the treating doctor(s).

Doctors closely aligned with employers and their insurance carriers have a tendency or inclination to give opinions favorable to the employers and carriers. When in doubt, their decisions favor employers and carriers.

Our law firm does not approve of this mentality. We believe that medical providers should act with the patient's best interest in mind, rather than the employer/carrier's.

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