As a longshoreman you are automatically covered by workers’ compensation (the Longshore Act) which provides limited no-fault benefits (no recovery for pain and suffering). You cannot sue your employer. The only way that you will be fully compensated for a work injury is if you can file a third party lawsuit. This means suing someone other than your employer. Always have a camera in your car to photograph the accident site (which may be gone the next day). I will describe some third party scenarios that exist on the waterfront.
The law allows you to sue a negligent vessel owner, one who fails to turn over the ship in a safe condition, fails to warn of a hidden danger, fails to safely maintain equipment or areas under its control, or gets actively involved in the stevedoring operation and injuries someone. Common unsafe conditions on ships are no nonskid on walkways, failure to paint deck fittings yellow, worn stair treads, lack of guardrails and lack of covers over openings in the deck (particularly on lashing platforms).
Longshoremen are frequently injured by cranes and forklifts which lack proper safety features such as anti-two blocking devices, backing bells, flashing lights, tail lights, and safe access systems. Under these circumstances you may bring a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product. Machines also often lack proper warnings and instructions.
Many unsafe conditions in the terminal can cause injury — improper traffic controls, failure to barricade small structures like fire hydrants, broken drain gratings, broken steps, and hidden obstacles. If you are injured by an unsafe condition in the terminal you may sue the terminal owner and operator.
Always be sure to determine who everyone works for and who owns the equipment. Sometimes a forklift driver from one stevedoring company hits a longshoreman working for another stevedoring company. Sometimes the clerks and the longshoremen do not work for the same company. In one terminal you may have a shipping line, a terminal operator, and a stevedoring company which, though closely related, are all separate corporate entities. If you are injured by another person or a piece of machinery, you need to find out who the other person was working for and who owns the machinery. Many third party cases are overlooked— don’t let it happen to you.
Contact our maritime accident law firm today to arrange for your free initial consultation to see if you have a claim against a third-party. There is no obligation and if we do not recover for you there is no fee.
The statute of limitations on filing claims covered by maritime law are relatively short so it is important that you contact The Law Offices of Preston Easley as soon as possible to learn about your rights and get sound legal advice about pursuing compensation you may be entitled to receive.