Shipyards are incredibly dangerous work environments. Employees tasked with building, repairing, loading, and unloading ships are exposed to toxic chemicals, loud noise, extreme heat, fires and explosions, and heavy equipment that could cause illness or injury.
Employees working in confined and enclosed spaces have a greater likelihood of suffering a shipyard injury, illness, or fatality than those performing other types of shipyard work. Last year, a worker was rescued from such circumstances at a shipyard in Barrio Logan. The employee was working in a tight space on USS Russell at the Continental Maritime of San Diego when he suffered a back spasm that was so severe he was unable to free himself. Firefighters carried the worker up a steep flight of stairs where an ambulance was waiting to transfer him to an area hospital.
Unfortunately, injuries like these are extremely common in shipyards. The good news is that maritime workers who put their health on the line every day have a right to collect medical and wage loss benefits for their injuries under the Longshore Act.
SHIPYARD WORKERS ARE COVERED BY THE LONGSHORE ACT
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, commonly referred to as the Longshore Act, is designed to protect shipyard workers from the financial consequences of injuries like the one above. The Longshore Act covers longshoremen, harbor workers, and other employees who work on docks or in shipping terminals. This federal act offers similar benefits as state workers’ compensation law, including payment for medical treatment and rehabilitation along with wage loss benefits.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A SHIPYARD INJURY
If you have suffered a shipyard injury, there are a few critical steps to follow to ensure you get the benefits offered under the Longshore Act.
1. SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
Even if you don’t require emergency care, it’s important to be seen by a physician in the hours following your shipyard accident. Ask your employer for Form-LS1, which authorizes treatment by a doctor of your choice. Seeking prompt medical treatment will demonstrate that your injuries are serious and should be compensated.
2. PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE OF YOUR INJURY
You must fill out and submit a Notice of Employee Injury or Death (Form LS-201) to your employer and to the District Director in your local office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor within 30 days of your injury. There are two exceptions to this rule.
First, if you are injured on the job but are not disabled right away, you should report the injury within 30 days after you realize that you became disabled as a result of a shipyard accident. Second, if you have an occupational disease, you have up to a year to report the incident after becoming aware that the illness caused lost time from work.
3. FILE A WRITTEN CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION
You will need to fill out Form LS-203, Employee’s Claim for Compensation, to seek benefits under the Longshore Act. You will submit this form to the District Director at the U.S. Department of Labor within one year of the date of your injury, or the last payment of compensation, whichever is later.
CALL A SAN DIEGO WORKERS’ COMP ATTORNEY
Shipyard workers are at constant risk for burns, bone fractures, electric shock, hearing and vision loss, and other serious injuries. The Longshore Act provides medical and wage loss benefits to help these individuals recover from their injuries – both physically and financially. The workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Russell can help you understand the advantages of filing your claim under the Longshore Act and build a strong case on your behalf.
Call us today at (619) 544-1506 to speak with a lawyer and schedule your free consultation.