Longshoremen—also known as stevedores and dockworkers—are the individuals responsible for loading and unloading ships in busy harbors. Until the 1950′s, longshoremen mostly dealt with irregularly shaped parcels of goods, which they had to lash down on the deck, or in the interior, of the ship—at which point the rapid adoption of multi-ton shipping containers made longshoremen’s jobs both simpler and more hazardous.
In addition to loading and unloading cargo, often in perilous weather conditions, longshoremen have to maintain the piers, docks and shipping terminals of the ports where they work; they’re also employed by shipyards to build and maintain ships. As you can imagine, these activities come with their own risks, including falls from piers, injuries from construction equipment, and any of the other, sundry hazards encountered by the average factory worker or user of heavy machinery. It’s no wonder that longshoremen are usually depicted in movies and TV as tough, rugged, can-do individuals!
You must carefully guard your workers’ compensation rights and avoid signing forms that you do not understand. Do not assume that the company will voluntarily take care of you after you are injured. It is your responsibility to comply with all legal requirements. To learn more about your rights, the compensation you may be entitled to receive and what to do and not to do after an accident, read Stevedoring Injuries: Your Rights Under the Longshore Act.
One of the problems stevedores face is that when injured, they cannot sue their employer unless the employer is also the vessel owner or you are a seaman. Otherwise, you can only file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer. This can lead to carelessness on the part of contractors and employers that may cut corners to save money because they do not fear being sued.
It is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in maritime law if you want to hold all parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Preston Easley is an experienced maritime lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state cases in the field of maritime and admiralty law. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Unlike other law firms that practice personal injury, or even family law or criminal defense law, The Law Offices of Preston Easley devotes all its energy and resources to practicing maritime law.
For a free initial consultation, call or email our law firm today.
If your employer is also the vessel owner or you are a seaman, you may be able to sue your employer as a seaman. Seaman fall under the Jones Act which allows them to sue their employers for negligence and seek damages for wage loss, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering.
Workers assigned to vessels owned by their employers such as tugboats, work boats, barges, and floating cranes, can claim seaman status and sue their employers directly. This right was affirmed in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case known as Southwest Marine. Inc. v. Gizoni, a San Diego case that was handled by attorney Preston Easley. Gizoni was a rigging foreman who was injured when he fell through a hole in the deck of a work barge. You have three years from the date of injury to file a Jones Act lawsuit. A non seaman can sue his employer for negligence when his employer is also the vessel owner.
If you have a work related medical condition, you should seek competent legal advice immediately. Under most circumstances, you must notify your employer within 30 days of any injury (there are some exceptions.)
If your injury is caused by an unsafe condition aboard ship, an unsafe condition on the dock, a defective product, or a negligent contractor, then you may file a lawsuit against the responsible third party. Longshoremen commonly sue vessel owners for accidents caused by slippery decks, gangways, and ladders (commonly due to a lack of nonskid). Many longshoremen are injured by cranes and forklifts which lack proper safety devices. Sometimes another stevedoring company is in charge of the overall operation and does not properly inspect the vessel for hazards.
If you were injured or a loved one has been killed while in a maritime accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from a third party or sue your employer. To see if you have a case, call or email our maritime accident law firm today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.