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.