The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 901–950 (“LHWCA”)provides certain work-related benefits to dockworkers and other maritime workers, while undergoing medical treatment or after an injury. Under LHWCA these workers are entitled to 2/3 their weekly pay as temporary compensation, as well as, medical and indemnity benefits.
Injured workers are classified under four categories when determining reasonable and necessary benefits under LHWCA:
The benefits provided under LHWCA depend on whether the injured worker can resume their maritime duties or find suitable alternative work.
Also, the impact and permanence of the injury are considered. Workers who qualify for permanent disability status may also be eligible for vocational and rehabilitation services from the United States Department of Labor.
A recent decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit examined the extent to which a claimant could be relied upon to give accurate testimony regarding their injury, Bis Salamis, Inc. v. Director, OWCP (Joseph Meeks).
Ultimately the Fifth Circuit found that the claimant failed to make a prima facie case that his alleged work-related injury caused compensable harm or that pre-existing condition was aggravated further by the event.
In the original opinion, now upheld by the Fifth Circuit decision, it was found that the claimant was such a dishonest person and unreliable witness that his testimony should carry no weight without further evidence to corroborate what happened. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the ALJ could determine the credibility of the claimant to decide whether he was eligible for the Section 20(a) presumption, which would have accepted his testimony as true unless there was a reason not to.
Basically, this decision by the Fifth Circuit gave greater discretion and weight to ALJ findings and conclusions in cases involving The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
These cases can get complex and fact-intensive, and having an experienced lawyer in your corner can make all the difference.
Here at Smiley Law Firm, we’ve advised numerous clients on maritime issues. If you’ve been injured as a dockworker or other maritime worker that is covered under The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or you have questions of whether you qualify then contact our firm today. We offer a free consultation to help you get started so contact us today.