Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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Maritime injuries don't just occur on the high seas. Injuries can also occur in shipyards, on docks and on piers. Generally, injuries or fatalities that occur in these types of locations which are adjoining the navigable waters of the United States are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
What Kinds of Injuries Occur on Shipyards, Docks and Piers?
Shipyards are notoriously dangerous places to work. Typically, there is a lot of ship building construction, cleaning and repair that goes on in a shipyard. However, the nature of the work leads to an injury rate among shipyard workers of more than twice that of the construction or general industries. The work includes dangerous tools, heat, toxic substances and work at variable heights, some of which occurs over water.
Similarly, work on docks and piers can be dangerous. It is the responsibility of the dock or pier owner and operator to appropriately maintain the dock or pier. That means that the wood on the dock or pier must be secure and should be replaced if it is rotting or loose. Electrical wiring must be safely installed and secured so that electrocution is avoided while working near water. Tools and equipment must be carefully stored so that accidents are avoided and proper training must be provided to employees about how to complete their jobs and stay safe.
What Damages Can be Recovered Pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act?
This act provides relief to workers who are on navigable waters or areas adjoining navigable waters, such as shipyards, docks and piers, and who are performing work for the maritime industry. In order to make a successful claim, the worker must have been in an occupational accident or contracted a disease as a result of his or her employment. Workers who are successful in their claims under this Act may recover damages for medical benefits, lost wages and any rehabilitation or therapy needs that arise as a result of their claim. If an employee dies as a result of his injuries or illness then his family member may recover damages pursuant to the Act.
While the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides important protections for onshore maritime workers, it may not be the only applicable law. Some onshore workers may also be covered by other laws such as the Jones Act or state workers compensation laws. An attorney who specializes in maritime law can help an onshore worker understand which laws apply and what the potential legal remedies are for his or her situation.