The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers workers in maritime occupations. Injuries that occur on navigable waters, piers, docks, terminals, wharves, etc.
LHWCA includes compensation, medical care, rehabilitation and retraining. LHWCA also supplies survivor benefits when a work-related fatality occurs. Offshore and maritime work exposes workers to hazardous and dangerous situations. When the work conditions result in an accident, LHWCA is there for workers.
Can I choose my doctor?
Yes. LHWCA does not have a network of approved doctors. This means that a worker is free to choose whom they would like to receive treatment from. Usually, a general practitioner is the one that makes referrals to specialists.
What does LHWCA define as a “physician”?
LHWCA has clarified what they consider to qualify as a physician: “medical doctors (MDs), surgeons, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, osteopathic practitioners.”
What types of “doctors” are not authorized under LHWCA?
Many natural and alternative treatments do not qualify as options under LHWCA: for example, faith healers, holistic practitioners, acupuncturists, hypnotists and naturopaths. These treatments may be effective in treating an injury, however, they are not covered by LHWCA. If one feels that they want or need these alternative treatments, then they are responsible for their payment.
Can I choose a chiropractor for treatment?
Yes, but only under qualifying circumstances. To receive treatment from a chiropractor, a subluxation that is visible on X-rays must be present and treatable with manual manipulation. Chiropractic treatment of anything other than the spinal column is not covered.
If a maritime or offshore worker is exploring the merits of a potential personal injury case, reaching out for help can ensure your rights are protected.