Shore-based accidents in the maritime industry can be as severe and life-changing as those on board ships. If you work in the maritime industry and have been the victim of a shore accident, you need to understand your rights. Maritime law protects workers like you, and a maritime attorney can help you learn what those protections are and how to access them.
About On-Shore Maritime Accidents
Many different types of accidents can occur in harbors, ports, and terminals.
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Falls are not uncommon, as workers in ports and on docks often have to traverse walkways and catwalks and work on roofs, cranes, and personnel platforms. One example of such a fall occurred when the catwalk a worker was walking across in a warehouse collapsed.
One of the most common jobs in a shipyard or port is loading and unloading cargo. Several accidents can happen when someone is working at this type of job. For instance, falls may occur when workers carry cargo over a walkway.
For large container ships, cranes load and unload shipping containers. Accidents can easily happen with this large equipment, from falling cargo to swinging cranes that accidentally hit people.
Docked Ship Accidents
Shore accidents may also include those that happen on a docked ship. Shore workers not accustomed to navigating a ship’s decks and below-deck regions may trip and fall, slip on wet surfaces, get hit with cargo, or even fall overboard.
Warehouses in ports and shipyards represent another location where shore accidents may occur with maritime workers. Crowded and large port warehouses can be the site of accidents if precautions are not taken.
For instance, stored cargo may fall and strike workers. Trucks used to move cargo may hit someone walking through the warehouse. Workers have even lost when working on the roofs of warehouses that were not adequately maintained.
What Causes On-Shore Accidents?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of accidents on shore, from warehouse to crane accidents, are preventable. Some type of negligence causes most accidents.
- Inadequate Worker Training. A major preventable cause, for instance, is lack of training. Employers are responsible for providing workers with adequate training to complete a job or use heavy equipment. When workers are not trained well, they pose a risk to themselves and others when they make mistakes.
- Lack of Safety Gear and Training. Safety gear and equipment also pose a problem in many accidents. Employers must ensure that workers are trained in safety procedures and have the proper safety equipment to prevent injuries and accidents and rescue workers in situations like falls into the water. When workers are not given the right tools, accidents are more likely.
- Inadequate Equipment Maintenance. Another major cause of accidents in shore locations is related to equipment and maintenance. Employers are supposed to ensure that all equipment used for the business is regularly maintained and that any necessary repairs are made promptly. Malfunctioning equipment can cause any number of accidents, no matter how well-trained the operator is.
Examples of Shore Accidents
The news is full of stories of terrible accidents in the maritime industry. While significant disasters out at sea, like collisions, capsized ships, and fires, get the most attention, plenty of shore incidents are reported by the news media.
Fallen Shipping Container
For instance, in 2013, a shore worker at a port in South Carolina was severely injured when a shipping container fell on him. These are large metal boxes, and the man was lucky not to have been killed.
He was in a truck, and the container fell on the truck, which is likely what saved his life in this situation. He suffered neck and back injuries.
Fatal Port Truck Accident
In an even more tragic incident, a truck driver at the Port of Los Angeles died when his truck plunged into the water. The worker could not get out of the truck, and he drowned. His body was recovered, but he could not be revived.
The cause of the accident was not determined, but there were no railings at the location where he went into the water. Safety railings could have prevented this fatal accident.
Fatal Forklift Accident
Another fatal accident occurred at the Port of Camden in New Jersey in 2013 and had nothing to do with water. A forklift struck a worker, and it was thought that the driver didn’t see him. The man died later in the hospital from injuries sustained in the hit.
Workers’ Rights After Shore Accidents
Maritime law covers a variety of people working in the maritime industry. The Jones Act protects those who qualify as seamen. Most shore workers do not qualify for the Jones Act.
Shore workers are usually considered longshoremen and are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This law compensates injured workers for lost wages, medical bills, and more, depending on the situation.
It also compensates the dependent family members of those workers killed on the job who qualify under the law.
If you work in a port, terminal, or dock area and have been injured in an accident while on the job, you have rights. If your employer denies you those rights and refuses compensation, you can call on federal maritime law to get the compensation you are owed.
Filing a claim isn’t easy, and you may not fully understand which law covers you or what you are entitled to in terms of compensation. An experienced maritime attorney can help you sort through everything and get the money you need.