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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

US Supreme Court Rules When Disability Commences in Longshore Case

Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court justiceSonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court justice
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US Supreme Court ruled that an employee must be "newly awarded compensation" in a Longshore and Harbor Workers Act (LHWCA) claim when he was injured and not when the award was entered. This determination sets the time frame for the calculation of benefits.

Justica reports:

"In an opinion authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court held that in order to support an administrable rule "that will result in equal treatment of similarly situated beneficiaries and avoids gamesman ship in the claims process," an employee must be "'newly awarded compensation' when he first becomes disabled and thereby becomes statutorily entitled to benefits under the Act, no matter whether, or when, a compensation order issues on his behalf." The court further concluded that:
'[A]pplying the national average weekly wage for the fiscal year in which an employee becomes disabled advances the LHWCA's purpose to compensate disability, defined as "incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury." Just as the LHWCA takes "the average weekly wage of the injured employee at the time of the injury" as the "basis upon which to compute compensation" it is logical to apply the national average weekly wage for the same point in time.
Roberts v. Sea-Land Services