Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Ships are built for the sea, but they must come to shore eventually to accomplish their purpose. While on shore, cargo handlers and crane operators unload the ships, longshoremen load it back up, and welders and other ship repair workers address any maintenance issues the ship might have.

Jobs at sea and on the shore are dangerous. Longshore and harbor workers face the potential for serious injury every day. As a result, Congress has passed the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) to help those workers continue to pay bills and keep food on their tables in the event of an injury. The LHWCA also helps maritime workers cover their medical expenses and other damages after a debilitating accident.

Attorneys for the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act

If you are a harbor worker, longshoreman, or other maritime worker who is not a member of the crew of a vessel and you have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for benefits under the LHWCA.

Although your employer might try to unfairly deny you benefits, delay paying benefits, or terminate you for seeking benefits, you have rights under the law. Pursuant to the LHWCA, workers can recover additional damages when vessel negligence caused or contributed to the accident.

If you are a harbor worker, longshoreman, or other maritime worker that is not a member of the crew of a vessel and were injured on the job, the lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP may be able to help you. Our experienced maritime attorneys will fight for you to get what you’re owed. Our offices are located in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California.

We represent dock workers and other land-based maritime employees coast-to-coast and throughout the Pacific Northwest, including in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message for a free consultation.

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Information Center

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Maritime Employees Covered by LHWCA

The LHWCA covers employees in maritime fields who are not members of the crew of a vessel, a state or federal employee, or an employee of a foreign government. This is a broad field of potential plaintiffs, and may include the following workers:

  • Longshoremen
  • Dock workers
  • Crane operators
  • Stevedores
  • Cargo handlers
  • Ship repair workers
  • Welders
  • Shipbuilder
  • Shipbreaker

The LHWCA covers these types of workers if they were injured upon navigable waters of the United States subject to 33 U.S.C. § 905(a). For instance, if a welder is injured while working in the Port of Seattle, he would be eligible for benefits under the LHWCA. If the same welder was injured after being taken out on the Puget Sound to work on a ship, he would still likely be covered under the LHWCA. The LHWCA does not generally cover seamen who are injured while at harbor. Those employees can seek recovery under a different law.

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Injuries Covered Under Longshore and Harbor Workers Act

There are a wide variety of injuries that can occur while working at a harbor or dock. Some of these injuries include:

  • Shoulder injuries from improper lifting procedures
  • Back injuries from a slip and fall
  • Broken bones from falling or improperly stowed cargo
  • Head injuries from crane accidents
  • Amputated fingers from accidents with machinery
  • Chemical burns
  • Burns from explosions

If a mistake is made by the employee or the employee was not following proper procedures, they may still recover from the employer pursuant to the LHWCA.

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Compensation for Injured Alaska Dock Workers

When a harbor worker or other employee covered by the LHWCA is injured, they are eligible for benefits. Benefits under the LHWCA work similarly to workers’ compensation or maintenance and cure. The employer, or, in most cases, the employer’s insurance company, is required to pay for all reasonable medical expenses related to the injury.

Injured harbor workers are also eligible to receive two-thirds of their annual weekly pay every week until the effects of the injury go away. A surviving spouse may receive half of the average wages of the deceased, and surviving children may receive up to sixteen percent of the average wages of the deceased.

Employers may attempt to deny claims or fail to pay them. When an employer wrongfully denies or delays payments, certain penalties may apply. For instance, if the payment is more than ten days late, an extra twenty percent may be added. It is illegal for an employer to terminate or otherwise retaliate against an employee for filing a valid LHWCA claim. Your maritime injury lawyer can help you discover what civil avenues are available to you under this act and others.

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Longshore and Dock Worker Lawyers in Seattle, WA

If you are a land-based maritime employee who was injured on the job, you may be eligible for benefits under the LHWCA. The lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP can help you claim those benefits.

Our maritime lawyers represent clients throughout the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska, and we have offices in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California.

Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message to set up a free consultation.


  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.