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Work-Related Injury for Harbor Workers

Harbor workers are essential to the cargo transportation network in the United States as well as other countries engaged in sea-going commerce. One of the main jobs of harbor workers is to load and unload ships and land-based freight carriers while other workers ensure the equipment remains in good working order. Training is on-the-job, with most harbor workers aiming to accumulate enough hours to be longshoremen (who do the same jobs, but are registered with a union, have more experience, and are often paid better). This kind of job can be very lucrative in the right areas, but the pay rate varies. For instance, in 2004 the median wage for a harbor worker was $9.67 per hour, but in some areas $19 or $20 per hour is not unusual.

Harbor workers are not generally full-time employees, but rather hired on an hourly or seasonal basis when work is available. This kind of on/off work makes it difficult to evaluate a given worker's actual level of experience or expertise, commonly resulting in higher injury rates. Workers face a number of on-the-job hazards including heavy machinery, large trucks and sometimes massive cargo which can pose serious risks to inexperienced workers. On-the-job safety precautions are not always sufficient to prevent injury or, in some cases, death.

If a harbor worker is injured on the job, federal regulation provides assurance that the worker will receive proper medical benefits, including treatment costs and compensation. The extent of the disability determines how much compensation is due the worker. Most temporary disabilities warrant compensation for a set number of weeks; often the loss of a single limb or eye will also result in temporary compensation. Compensation only continues indefinitely if the worker loses the use of both eyes, both arms, both legs or a combination, which is classified as a total disability.

Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act, a harbor worker's employer is liable for any expenses accrued due to an on-the-job injury, though there are restrictions regarding which doctors the worker can see as well as time limits for filing claims. Harbor workers who are concerned about their medical expenses being covered should consult a lawyer as soon as possible; not doing so could be a costly mistake. In cases of employer negligence, a lawyer may even be able to secure additional compensation beyond what is already covered by regulation for the injured worker.

Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)

Free PDF overview from 888-GO-LONGY regarding Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)

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Defense Base Act
The Frequently Asked Questions

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