Who's Covered Under the Longshore Act?
Although an individual’s job may sometimes require them to work at the many different Texas ports along the Gulf of Mexico, this does not always and automatically entitle a worker to receive disability benefits under the Longshore Act. In order to qualify as a covered employee under the Act, an individual must meet two court mandated requirements known as “status” and “situs.”
To satisfy the “status” test, the individual must be employed and partaking in some form of maritime employment. This does not mean that the individual must be directly assigned to a ship or a member of a ship’s crew, as dock workers are also covered under the Act. Generally, an individual will be meet this “status” test if they are working for more than an insubstantial amount of time on the navigable waters or are engaged in the loading, unloading, building, or repairing of a ship. Of course, other occupations may also bring an individual under the coverage benefits of the Longshore Act so long as they have not been previously excluded. Some examples of excluded forms of employment include office and clerical workers, recreational employees, and some marina employees.
In addition to the “status” test, an individual must also meet the requirements of the separate “situs” test. To meet this requirement, the worker’s injury generally must have occurred either while he or she was on navigable waters or was working at an adjoining area to the water used in the unloading, loading, building, or repair of a ship. Generally, this covers areas such as wharfs, piers, and dock facility. However, it is not necessary that the adjoining area be directly adjoining to the water’s edge, so long as it can be shown the area is customarily used in the operations described above and is very close to the water.
One example of how broad the courts can extend these tests is the case of Global Mgmt. Enter., LLC v. Commerce & Indus. Ins. Co. In Global, a federal district court found that a maritime worker met both requirements to be covered under the Longshore Act. With regards to the “situs” test the court found the individual worked on a beach that was “5 to 10 feet from the waterline” and assisted in loading contaminated sandbags onto a ship at a pier. As for the “status” requirement, the court in Global found that the 30-45 minutes that the individual spent twice a day loading and unloading a ship was enough of a connection to bring the worker under the coverage of the Longshore Act.
As one can see even an hour and a half of work at a pier a day can, in some instances, bring a maritime worker under the coverage of the Longshore Act. Of course, every individual situation is unique and not every worker will be deemed to fall under the coverage of the Longshore Act. If you are a worker in the maritime industry in Houston, Port Arthur, Brownsville, or one of the other port cities along the Texas Gulf Coast and have been injured our attorneys can help determine whether you are eligible to recover disability and medical benefits under the Longshore Act. They can be reached at 800-862-1260 or by email.
If you or a loved one was injured anywhere on the Gulf Coast, call our Law Firm with offices in Beaumont, Galveston, Houston, Victoria, Rockport, Corpus Christi, the Valley or San Antonio we are here to help. Call 800-862-1260