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THE UNITED STATES LONGSHORE AND HARBOR WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT (USL&H WCA)
The United States Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (USL&H) is an important term to know. It is a federal workers compensation law that applies to maritime employees who work on or over navigable waters in or adjacent to the United States. However, it does not apply to sailors, seamen, masters and crews of any ship, vessel or watercraft. The workers subject to this Act are usually not eligible for state workers compensation benefits because they work on or over navigable waters. They are also not eligible for coverage under the Jones Act or the Merchant Marine Act because they are not seamen. As a result, USL&H was needed to fill the coverage gap for this class of workers. The specific federal law addressing USL&H is found in US Code (1946), Title 33, Sections 901-950, as amended by Public Law 92-576.
USL&H Insurance (US longshore insurance) was established in compliance with the Unites States Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act of 1927.
Jones Act Insurance
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act, is a federal act that provides employee benefits similar to State Act Workers Compensation to masters and crewmembers of US flagged vessels. State Act Workers Compensation programs do not cover vessel crews. These employees, however, can file suit against their employer for negligence, the negligence of a co-employee or the unseaworthy condition of a vessel under the Jones Act.
No matter how safe that you believe your vessel, dock, boatyard, or port is, your employees can still get injured and fall ill on your premises—and you could be held liable. Only proper USL&H and Jones Act insurance coverage can cover losses and defend potential lawsuits against your company.
There are two tests the Department of Labor applies to determine Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act eligibility. They are:
- Status – Employment: Is it a covered type of work or job;
- Situs – Location: Did the injury occur in the right location.
Both tests must be passed independently of each other in order to establish eligibility to the act.
Failure for an employer to provide proper coverage may result in:
- Fines of not more than $10,000 per claim;
- Imprisonment for not more than one year;
- Or Both;
- Loss of Corporate protection for the president, secretary and treasurer resulting in personal liability for fines, imprisonment and benefit compensation to the injured employee.
Exclusions to Coverage:
- An officer or employee of the United States or any of its agencies.
- An employee of any state.
- An employee of any municipality.
- The agent of any foreign country.
- An employee whose injury is caused solely by his intoxication.
- An employee whose injury occurs as a result of his attempt to injure or kill himself or another.
- Office clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing personnel who perform non-maritime tasks exclusively.
- Personnel working for a club, camp, recreational operation, restaurant, museum, or retail outfit.
- Personnel employed by a marina including those taking reservations, servicing boats, preparing and serving food, or performing routine task.
- Personnel working for suppliers, transporters, or vendors temporarily doing business on the premises of a maritime employer, but who are not engaged in work normally performed by the employees of the maritime employer. This would include a teamster delivering a load of steel to a shipyard; however, an employee of a subcontractor performing a peripheral part of the shipbuilding or ship repair process at the shipyard would be covered.
- Aquaculture workers, which includes personnel who clean, process, or can fish and fish products, and a commercial enterprise involved in the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants and animals.
- Personnel working on the construction, repair, or dismantling of any recreational vessel under 65 feet in length.
- NOTE: one exception to exclusions 7 through 12 is that the individual must be eligible for state workers’ compensation benefits.
- A master or member of a crew of any vessel (Jones’ Act).
- Any person engaged by a master to load, unload, or repair any vessel under 18 tons net.
Notice must be given to the employer within 30 days after the date of the injury or death or within 30 days of the date that the employee (or dependent) becomes aware that there is a relationship between the injury, or death, and employment.
Maritime employment can present many insurance challenges. With proper marine insurance coverage, your employees can receive compensation for their lost wages and other losses due to injuries and illness.
Leveraging our experience and broad carrier networks at Alliance West Insurance, Inc., we can help to find you the best possible USL&H and Jones Act insurance policies at the lowest possible rates. With one quick phone call, you can begin the process of getting great insurance coverage.