Savannah, on Georgia’s Atlantic coast, is a major U.S. port, especially for cargo and containers. In fact, the Port of Savannah is the second busiest in the country for container shipping, beaten only by the Pacific coast Port of Los Angeles. The location in the center of the U.S. coast of the Atlantic Ocean, coupled with impressive resources, terminals, and warehouse space, means that Savannah holds a strategic position in international shipping and trade.
As such a busy and bustling port, Savannah is naturally a maritime industry that employs a lot of skilled workers. These workers keep the port going and insure that ships are maintained, cargo is stored and moved, and that it makes its way onto trains and trucks to be distributed throughout the country. They also face many dangers in the work they do. From falls to being struck with cargo to being hit by trucks or forklifts, the work of longshoremen and seamen is difficult and dangerous. There are laws to protect them, though, and Savannah maritime lawyers ready to help ensure those rights after an accident.
The Port of Savannah
The Port of Savannah has a lot to brag about to potential shipping lines. Already, over 100 lines are served here, bringing in cargo from around the world and exporting to numerous countries. Cargo and container shipping is the main industry for Savannah’s port and it has been so successful at it for many reasons: access to interstates and railways, a location near major cities and markets, a large concentration of distribution centers for imports, and the facilities that can handle a big, international cargo trade.
Savannah exports more containers than any other port in the U.S. after Los Angeles, and it has nearly 10,000 feet of berth space with a deep harbor. It is growing faster than any other port in the country and in terms of volume, is the fourth-largest port facility in North America. Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in the port.
Savannah Port Accidents
Unfortunately there are sometimes major accidents at the Port of Savannah. It is not surprising to have accidents at any busy port. The work done by employees here is dangerous and a lot of things can go wrong, leading to incidents that injure or kill workers. From the big cranes that lift cargo, to the forklifts and trucks that move cargo, to the huge warehouses stacked with cargo, there are many hazards on the job in the port.
Too many of these accidents cause fatalities. That was the case for two separate incidents that occurred in 1994. In one accident a worker has loading cargo when a forklift driven by another worker ran him over and killed him on the spot. In the other incident in the same year a worker was killed instantly by a huge bale of cotton. The over 500-pound bale dropped onto him, crushing the worker to death. Whether or not these accidents could have been prevented is not certain, but most likely some small error that should not have happened, led to the deaths.
In 2008 another incident led to the nearly instant death of a longshoreman in the port. The victim was Lee Fluker, a veteran on the job at the ages of 69. He was working when a forklift carrying steel tubes drove by him and the tubes struck him, knocking him into the path of another forklift carrying the same type of cargo. When this forklift driver stopped to avoid hitting Fluker, the tubes flew forward from the forklift and crushed him. This accident could have been prevented in a couple of different ways. Someone wasn’t paying attention when he was struck the first time and the steel tubes had clearly not been secured properly, which caused them to be released from the forklift.
Legal Rights and Resources
Workers in the Savannah maritime industry have rights when such terrible accidents occur. Workers killed on the job may have dependent family members counting on their salaries. These dependents have a right to benefits and compensation when a workplace accident takes away their loved one. Money can help to pay for funeral expenses and to cover the lost wages from that employee.
For workers who are not killed, but injured on the job, the same laws protect them and ensure they get compensation that will get them back on their feet. For longshoremen and other port workers the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides a federal workers’ compensation plan. Regardless of negligence in the accident, workers are entitled to money damages through this law. The money helps pay medical bills and keeps workers going until they can return to work.
For seamen working aboard ships that come into ports, the Jones Act can provide similar compensation. In this case, though, the seaman injured has to show that negligence played a role in the accident, even if it was only a small part of the incident. As with longshoremen, this money can cover lost wages and medical expenses.
If you have been injured on the job in the maritime industry, you should be aware of the rights you have to compensation under the law. You have resources to get that money, even if your employer’s insurance company doesn’t want to pay it. Filing a claim can be confusing, though, especially if they continue to fight against you. Turn to a Savannah maritime lawyer to get the professional expertise you need to file a claim and get the maximum amount of compensation you are owed.