I have been talking primarily about Washington State Labor & Industries claims in these notes. However, there is another common type of work related injury claim. Those workers who are employed “on or near navigable waters” will find they are covered under a Federal Law, rather than our State Labor & Industries statute.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act is a Federal law designed to cover those workers who are engaged in maritime employment, and are not a member of the crew of a vessel. This would include any longshoreman, any worker engaged in longshore operations, and any harbor worker, including ship repair, ship building and ship-breaking.
There are several extensions of the Longshore Act which expand its coverage to employment which is not traditional Longshore work. The two we see the most of in Washington are the Nonappropriated Fund and the Defense Base Act extensions. The first covers those who are employed by a nonappropriated fund, which is a fancy way of saying a civilian employed on a military base to work in a facility such as a commissary, restaurant or an on base day-care facility. The Defense Base Act extension applies to those civilian employees injured while working at a military, air or naval base, outside the United States, or on a public works project under contract with the United States where the work is performed outside the continental United States. Workers in these two groups who are injured at work have claims which are governed by the Longshore act.
Claims under the Longshore Act and State Labor & Industries claims are very different animals. Different time lines for filing claims, different methods for calculating benefits, different methods of compensating permanent disability, and a whole host of other details. Longshore claims are monitored by the Department of Labor in Seattle, although the actual claims management will be the responsibility of the employer or their insurance carrier. State Labor & Industries claims are managed by the Department of Labor & Industries in Olympia, or if the employer is self-insured, a third party administrator will manage the claim, with oversight by the Department of Labor & Industries.
It is important if you have a work injury that you properly file your claim as a State Labor & Industries claim or a Federal Longshore claim. Frankly, most longshore workers know who they are; and if you have never heard of longshore work, then it’s a safe bet you’re covered under the State act. If in doubt, ask your union representative, ask your employer, or call our office and ask an attorney. Whether you are covered by the State Law or the Federal Longshore Act, we can answer any questions you might have about your claim, or the benefits which you may be entitled to for your work injury.