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Key maritime acronym LHWCA: what it is and what it provides for


Those short-hand descriptors are seemingly everywhere in the legal landscape, reducing lengthily spelled out terms/concepts into abbreviated sound bites a bit more amenable to public consumption.

The immediately vast and varied maritime realm is a ready example, with that universe being replete with lettered designations for various laws and regulations.

Here’s an ordering of letters that command importance for legions of employees in Louisiana and elsewhere who work on or near the water: LHWCA.

Fleshed out, that acronym stands for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, seminal federal legislation that provides processes and safeguards applicable to injured maritime workers.

Here’s something to note immediately about the LHWCA: It is not the Jones Act, which is also federal law that is of paramount importance in the maritime industry. In fact, LHWCA and Jones Act provisions operate in entirely different dimensions, while at the same time working together to provide seamless protections for industry participants.

An in-depth federal overview of the two laws stresses that difference yet overall symmetry. It stresses that the Jones Act and the LHWCA “are mutually exclusive regimes providing compensation for work-related injuries suffered by different categories of maritime employees.”

In a nutshell, the former legislation provides protective coverage to injured seamen working on a vessel or contributing to its functioning and/or mission. Conversely, and as we note on our website at the long-established maritime law firm of Simien & Simien, the LHWCA has a different mandate. It offers coverage “for those working on or near the water if they are not Jones Act Seamen, including to platform workers on offshore oil rigs.”

A maritime-linked injury claim can understandably entail some complexity. Questions can be directed to a proven legal team with a demonstrated record of advocacy in maritime law.