Longshore Basics – when is it Longshore?

For those with claims under the Federal Longshore and Harbors Workers Compensation Act, much of what has been written about Washington State L&I claims does not apply to you. I thought a series of posts specific to Longshore Claims would be helpful.

Let’s start at the beginning. When will you have a Longshore claim rather than a state L&I claim? Generally, and without getting bogged down in a discussion of legal concepts like situs and status – If you work on or near navigable waters, are engaged in maritime employment, including Longshore operations and ship building and repair, and you have a work related injury, you will be covered under the Longshore Act.

There are also several extensions of the Longshore Act which include employment which have absolutely nothing to do with maritime employment. The extensions which we see the most of in this part of the country are those for Defense Base Act claims and Nonappropriated Fund claims. Nonappropriated Fund claims include those who are employed as civilians of armed forces instrumentalities inside the U.S., such as the base exchanges, child care, and food services on base. These employees are not military, but they are employed by the military to provide services on base. Defense Base Act claims include employees who work for a company who is under contract with the U.S., where services are provided in another country. This includes civilians employed at oversees military bases, working on construction projects for the U.S. oversees, and those civilians who are assist the military in a variety of ways with operations overseas, but are not service members.

In most instances, your employer will know whether any work injury is covered under the Longshore Act or state workers compensation, and should assist you in completing the correct paperwork. Medical providers may not understand the difference. We see many instance of a state L&I claim being filed, only to be rejected because proper jurisdiction is under the Federal Longshore Act. Not a problem, the filing provides timely notice, and it’s a simple matter to refile as a Longshore claim. There are gray areas, some parts of a bridge being built may be exclusively land based and not covered under Longshore, while other parts of the construction are most definitely maritime; some ship repair may be done in a shop setting miles from the water; the Port has employees who have strictly administrative positions – if there are any doubts or questions – you should talk to an attorney to make sure your claim is timely filed in the right place, to avoid any unnecessary delay in your medical treatment or benefits.


Coming up –who chooses your medical provider; what wage replacement will you receive if you can’t work because of your injury; is vocational retraining available; how is permanent disability compensated.

2 thoughts on “Longshore Basics – when is it Longshore?

  1. I was wondering if you have any information about who chooses the medical provider? It has been tough to try and figure out if the physician that is providing the care has the patient’s best interests at heart or the interests of the employer/insurance company?

    On another note, if I have a release from this physician for light duty work until I fully heal, can I be laid off if there is not enough light duty work?

    • I’m gathering your claim is covered under the Longshore Act – You have the right to choose your attending physician. You may transfer care to a specialist if your initial provider was a not a specialist. To change physician after your initial selection you’ll need authorization to transfer care, from the Carrier or the District Director. Authorization shall be given where there is good cause for the change. Often times the employer ‘requests’ that you see a specific clinic or physician right after your injury – you do not have to go where they point you. The Carrier does have the right to have you evaluated by a physician of their choosing, but that physician will not be providing treatment, only opinions.

      To answer your other question – If you have been released to light duty work and your employer does not have any or does not provide light duty you should be receiving temporary total disability (TTD) while you are recovering. Unfortunately, this does not protect your job. While it is in the employer’s best interest to keep your position available so you can return to work as seamlessly as possible, this oftentimes is not what happens. The employer is not required to hold your job open indefinitely. You may take FMLA (Family Medical Leave) which will protect your job for up to 12 weeks – but if you are off longer then that the employer may lay you off.

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