If you are a longshoreman, or are covered under the Defense Base Act (DBA) extension, and are injured on the job, you will be entitled to compensation for missed time from work (lost wages) due to your injuries. The Longshore compensation system is based off of your earnings for the fifty-two (52) weeks of earnings prior to your accident. Different rules apply to five (5) day and six (6) day workers. It is very important to reach an accurate calculation of your average weekly wage, as this will determine the amount of your disability benefits.
There are four (4) types of disability for which a longshoreman can be paid for lost wages under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) (as well as the extensions under the Defense Base Act):
1. Permanent total disability: A claimant establishes a case of permanent total disability when he demonstrates that the injuries or illness prevent him from returning to his prior job. At that point, the claimant has established a prima facie case, and the burden shifts to the employer to prove suitable alternate employment. Suitable alternate employment means any employment that the employee, given his age, education, background, restrictions and limitations could secure, if he diligently tried. The employer must point to actual, not theoretical, jobs to establish suitable alternate employment. If such suitable alternate employment is proved by the employer, then the claimant’s disability is characterized as a permanent partial disability. Compensation is then calculated as two-thirds of the difference between the claimant’s pre-injury average weekly wage versus his post-accident average weekly wage in the suitable alternate employment.
2. Permanent partial disability: If you sustain an injury to a “scheduled” body part, such as a hand, foot, leg or arm, you will be paid for a set number of weeks depending on the impairment rating assigned by your doctor. If you sustain an injury to a “non-scheduled” body part, such as any part of your back or head, you will be paid two-thirds (66 2/3%) of the difference between your pre-accident average weekly wage and your current earning capacity. These “unscheduled injury” checks can continue for life.
3. Temporary total disability: You will be paid for any disability which is total in nature at two-thirds (66 2/3%) of your average weekly wage. This status applies to you if your doctor has put you on a “no work” status. There is no limitation under the LHWCA as to how long you can receive these benefits, therefore, your checks will continue until your doctor either (1) places you at maximum medical improvement or (2) returns you to regular duty or light duty.
4. Temporary partial disability: If your doctor allows you to work with restrictions, this is called modified or light duty and will be paid as temporary partial disability. If your employer has no light duty work available, you will be paid at two-thirds (66 2/3%) of your average weekly wage. If you work reduced hours while on light duty, you will be paid two-thirds (66 2/3%) of the difference between your pre-accident average weekly wage and your current earnings. You are entitled to these payments for five (5) years.
It is extremely important you obtain competent counsel to assist you in your case. If you have been injured in a claim covered under the Defense Base Act (DBA) or Longshore Act, schedule a free consultation with Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, P.A.. Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, P.A. will work to get you the benefits you need – and deserve.