How to Calculate the Average Weekly Wage Under the Longshore Act

How to Calculate the Average Weekly Wage Under the Longshore Act

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The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA), also known simply as ‘The Longshore Act’ is a federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from injuries that occur while working on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas that are customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing and building of a vessel. The Longshore Act also provides for payment of survivor benefits to dependents, should the injury sustained in the line of work cause or contribute towards an employee’s death. 



A range of different workers are covered by the LHWCA, including:



  • Longshore workers
  • Ship-repairers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Shipbreakers
  • Harbor construction workers



Non-maritime workers may also be covered if they perform work on the navigable waters and their injuries occur there. 


Thanks to the Longshore Act, maritime workers are well protected should they suffer an accident and sustain an injury while on the job. But, just how much compensation will you be entitled to?



Calculating your compensation



Every worker is unique, and the different types of injuries sustained can be huge, meaning that no two cases are ever exactly the same. Nevertheless, a worker covered by the Longshore Act is entitled to temporary compensation benefits of two-thirds of their average weekly wage (AWW) or wage-earning capacity while undergoing medical treatment.


There are several methods which can be used to determine AWW, but each is generally calculated by taking an employee’s annual earnings and dividing them by 52. However, if your wages in the 52 weeks prior to your injury don’t reflect your true earning capacity, for example, due to promotion, illness, or lack of work, or if your employment hasn’t been consistent during those 52 weeks, it may be necessary to use alternative methods to calculate your AWW. Your claims examiner will be able to provide you with more information. Please note, you may be required to provide proof of earning in the form of payslips, W-2 forms, or bank statements. 


In most instances, the injured worker and employer are able to reach an agreement on the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of injury/disability. In the case of permanent partial disability based on a loss of wage-earning capacity, the weekly compensation rate is two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wage and the post-injury wage-earning capacity. 


If you would like more information about the Longshore Act or support with making your claim, or if you would simply like to find out what compensation you could be entitled to for your on-the-job injury, please contact our knowledgeable and experienced team. 


Note: Each fiscal year, the Secretary of Labor must calculate a new National Average Weekly wage for Longshore and Defense Base Act claims. 

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