Most employees injured while working in the State of Louisiana will be covered for workers’ compensation benefits under either the State of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act (La. R.S. 23:1021 et seq.) or the federal Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, also known as the “LHWCA” (33 U.S.C. 901 et seq).
Which Act applies usually depends on where the accident occurred and what kind of work was being performed by the injured worker at the time of the accident.
Most non-maritime employees injured in the State of Louisiana (typically, land-based employees whose jobs are not associated with the manufacturing, repair, loading or unloading of vessels or the manufacturing or maintenance of equipment destined for use in offshore oil and/or gas production) are covered under the State of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, although certain exceptions can apply: e.g., private residential household employees, musicians and performers retained under private contract, public officers, real estate brokers, and salespersons, and most truck “owner-operators” are not covered under the State Act.
Despite the common misperception often promoted by employers, most “independent contractors” are covered under the State Act, if engaged in manual labor for a substantial percentage of their time working.
Employees who are injured in accidents occurring outside the State of Louisiana can be covered under the State Act if the employment is principally localized in Louisiana or, more commonly, if the employee was hired in Louisiana.
An injured employee can pursue his or her claim for compensation benefits in a workers’ compensation court located where the accident happened, where the injured employee lived at the time of the accident, or where the employers’ principal place of business is located.
The venue (where a claim for compensation benefits is prosecuted) is an important decision that should be made with the assistance of experienced legal counsel.
The LHWCA applies to employees of maritime employers, who are injured on the navigable waters of the United States and adjoining areas and who are engaged in maritime employment.
— Employees injured while working on actual navigable waters are always covered under the LHWCA.
— Employees injured while working in areas that adjoin navigable waters may be covered under the LHWCA: in general, an “adjoining area” does not need to be directly contiguous to navigable water but it must have a “maritime nexus” (some direct relationship to maritime employment).
— Employees commonly covered under the LHWCA include welders, fitters, blasters, scaffolding workers, mechanics, crane operators, longshoremen and stevedores, machine operators, electricians, painters, and truck drivers. Many other occupations may be covered under the LHWCA.
Workers injured on offshore oil and/or gas production platforms are covered under an extension of the LHWCA called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Civilian employees engaged in employment at any US Military base or outside the United States while employed by an American employer providing services for the benefit of the armed forces are covered by another extension to the LHWCA called the Defense Base Act.
Civilian employees of the Army, Air Force, and Navy Exchange Services are covered under an extension to the LHWCA called the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act.
Coverage under the LHWCA and its extensions are often contested and the subject of litigation, because maritime employers realize that, in general, it is better for an injured employee to be covered under the LHWCA rather than the State of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
If you are injured in an accident that occurs on land but near a navigable waterway, it is important to determine if your injury is covered under the LHWCA or the State of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
The attorneys at Workers’ Compensation, LLC collectively have over 100 years of experience and have handled many thousands of State claims and LHWCA claims, and remain ready, willing and able to assist you if you are injured on the job.
Give us a call at 504-838-8883.