Important facts for harbor workers injured on the job

Most Maryland residents are aware that our state has a vibrant fishing and crabbing industry. This is primarily due to the "Bay state's" extensive tidal coastline and freshwater estuaries. Maryland actually provides about half of the total U.S. blue crab harvest. In fact, the overall seafood industry throughout Maryland pumps approximately $600 million into the state's economy each year. In addition to crabs, fishing boats launching from our ports capture thousands of tons of flounder, sea trout and perch.

The point is that this large commercial fishing industry requires multitudes of workers to service those fishing vessels. Numerous additional workers are also required to facilitate the loading and unloading of aquatic wildlife at harbor facilities.

You need to know that if you are in this line of work you may be eligible for a special type of workers' compensation if you are injured while on the job. The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is a federal program administered by the Department of Labor to provide compensation and medical care for employees hurt while working in the navigable waters of the United States. The following are some of the more relevant components of the LHWCA:

-- Although the Act covers workers on U.S. navigable waters, it also applies to individuals working in adjoining areas. Typically, these are longshoremen and others who work in loading vessels and repairing them.

-- The Act also covers occupational diseases that these types of workers might acquire as a consequence of their employment. The LHWCA considers occupational diseases as workplace injuries.

-- The LHWCA will also provide benefits to a worker's dependents in cases where a worker's injury caused their death.

Of course, these are not all of the provisions of the LHWCA. However, a consultation with a Maryland workers' compensation attorney can help injured workers determine whether they qualify for relief under this program. An attorney can examine the particular nature of a workers' employment and ensure that they get the full amount of benefits and care for which they are entitled.

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