When you file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, you have the option of settling your claim. While settling may seem preferable to enduring the often drawn out process of formal hearings, you should understand exactly what settlement entails.
An experienced maritime attorney should be able to explain the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting any settlement you are offered. When you have all necessary information, you will be able to make an informed decision.
What happens when you file a claim?
The claim will be reviewed by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, or DLHWC, of the Department of Labor. That agency will make a recommendation related to your potential compensation.
Involved parties may agree to the recommendation or one of the parties may opt to refer the case to the Office of Administrative Law Judges. After the necessary formal hearing has taken place, an administrative law judge will issue an opinion, which each party may choose to accept or appeal.
What happens if you decide to settle?
You can decide to settle at any time throughout the course of the claims process. The settlement agreement will have to be approved by an Administrative Law Judge or the DLHWC. A majority of settlements are closely evaluated by the DLHWC. If the DLHWC determines that the settlement is reasonable, it will issue a compensation order requiring the carrier or employer to submit the payment to you within 10 days.
When deciding if a settlement is reasonable, the DLHWC will consider certain factors:
The information provided in your medical records. This is to determine the extent of impairment to your body and if you have reached maximum medical improvement or have healed as much as you are able to heal.
Any change in your ability to earn income. The DLHWC will verify if you have returned to the same type of work you performed before the injury occurred or if your working duties are limited by your injuries.
An advocate by your side
If you are a Louisiana longshore employee who was injured while working, you should consider seeking the services of a personal injury attorney who will work to ensure your rights are protected throughout the course of your claim process, from the initial filing to the payment of compensation. Your attorney will be able to advise you whether settling your claim is in your best interest and will be ready to advocate on your behalf during litigation when necessary.