Payment of Compensation and Medical Benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is the statutory workers’ compensation system for maritime workers in private companies and U.S. government agencies operating on a U.S. territory or at least for a purpose connected to U.S. defense in a foreign land. Its extension–Defense Base Act (DBA)–covers any workers aside from maritime workers employed at U.S. defense bases overseas. Both help qualified persons obtain immediate financial assistance when injured at work.
This compensation must cover the employee’s medication until he can go back to work. If the injury is so serious that it prevents him from continuing to work for several months to a year, compensation is based on his average weekly wage, particularly about two-thirds of it. This is determined by dividing the employee’s wage for the year prior to the injury by 52 (average number of weeks per year).
The established compensation rate (two-thirds of average weekly wage) for total disability is fixed and will not change regardless of increases for cost of living or inflation. However, the maximum rate changes periodically according to the amendments in the workers’ compensation program. The employer or the DBA insurer will release compensation usually every two weeks upon approval.
The worker will continue to receive the benefits until he is fully recovered from the injury. Sometimes, the employer will offer the employee a suitable work while still recovering. If the wage the employee will receive from the interim job is equal to the amount of benefits he is entitled to, then the employer need not compensate for him anymore. In some cases, the employer finds a suitable job offered by other companies in the employee’s commuting area.
Different terms apply when the injury caused the employee to become incapable of working for the rest of his life. Those employees under this condition are entitled to permanent and Total Disability Benefits (TDB), which they can obtain with the help of a Defense Base Act lawyer. TDB may consist of automatic cost of living allowance.
Injured workers diagnosed to be at maximum medical improvement, or the state when a person’s condition has stabilized enough that it is no longer expected to get better or worse, are subject for schedule award after certain maritime claims. Schedule award refers to the monetary compensation that the worker is entitled to receive for a specified number of weeks. This normally occurs when there is an available job and the worker can still make a living in his current physical condition.
Learn more about the medical benefits under LHWCA that DBA lawyers can help you obtain in dol.gov. This website offers more in-depth explanation of how the benefits can be obtained and how they work.
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