As a busy and bustling port, Savannah maritime workers face many dangers on the job. 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 are ready to help ensure those rights after an accident.
The Port of Savannah
On Georgia’s Atlantic coast, Savannah is a major U.S. port, especially for cargo and containers. The Port of Savannah is the second busiest in the country for container shipping, beaten only by the Pacific Coast Port of Los Angeles.
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The location in the center of the U.S. coast of the Atlantic Ocean, coupled with unique resources, terminals, and warehouse space, means that Savannah holds a strategic position in international shipping and trade.
The Port of Savannah serves more than 100 cargo, bringing in cargo from around the world and exporting to numerous countries.
Cargo and container shipping is the primary 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
- 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 different 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 many 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 was loading cargo when a forklift driven by another worker ran him over and killed him on the spot.
The other incident the same year, a worker was instantly killed by a vast cotton bale. The over 500-pound bale dropped onto him, crushing the worker to death. Whether or not these accidents could have been prevented is not sure, 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 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.
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 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 ones. Money can help pay for funeral expenses and cover that employee’s lost wages.
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.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The LHWCA provides a federal workers’ compensation plan for longshoremen and other port workers. Regardless of negligence in the accident, workers are entitled to monetary damages through this law. The money helps pay medical bills and keeps workers going until they can return to work.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act can provide similar compensation for seamen working aboard ships that come into ports. In this case, though, the seaman injured has to show that negligence played a role in the accident, even if it was only a tiny 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 the 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 for the professional expertise you need to file a claim and get the maximum compensation you are owed.