Many river workers in Kentucky and the rest of the country think that if they are injured at work, they will be eligible for compensation under the state’s workers’ compensation program. However, the fact is that injuries sustained on the waterways fall under the purview of a completely different set of laws. One such act is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which is administered by the federal Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
According to the provisions of the Longshore Act, workers eligible for compensation include those who suffered a workplace injury:
- while performing duties on the navigable waterways of the United States;
- while loading and unloading cargo in U.S. harbors or ports; and
- while building, repairing or dismantling vessels in U.S. harbors or ports.
In addition. the act has provisions for benefits to certain survivors and dependents of deceased workers. Here, it is necessary to note that “injury” in the context of the Longshore Act includes occupational diseases as well.
It is also important to remember that there are some workers in the maritime industry who are not covered by the Longshore Act, even if they are injured on U.S. navigable waters or in ports and harbors. For example, the master and the crew of a ship are not covered by this act. Similarly, state and federal government employees and employees of foreign governments are not under the purview of the Longshore Act. Again, some other people may also be excluded from the purview of this act as long as they are covered by their respective state’s workers’ compensation program.
As mentioned earlier, obtaining compensation for a river work injury or illness is a completely different ballgame, owing to the fact that the laws are different. Fortunately, these laws take into account the unique challenges faced by workers in this industry. Therefore, the benefits available under the Longshore Act cater to those unique requirements. However, like any other workers’ compensation claim, affected workers and families often require professional help to make sure that they are able to obtain what they rightfully deserve for the losses they suffered due to the injury or illness.