You can go online and find many videos showing cargo and crane accidents. These are technically known as “loading and offloading accidents,” and they are part of the dangers of working in the maritime industries. Whether it is a massive cargo ship that is being loaded with a crane, or a smaller ferry that is loading or offloading passenger’s vehicles, there are always risks present. From the use of gangways and decks to the use of heavy duty cables and massive machines, everything from electrocution to crushing injuries can occur. (AP, 1994)
Clearly, this is why there are so many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules that apply, and it is the job of OSHA and the Coast Guard, along with industry regulators, to ensure that employers, vessel owners, and crews are following the rules. Because these groups cannot possibly oversee or inspect the thousands of loading operations that happen each day, it is entirely possible that certain rules are ignored or overlooked, and any accidents that result are seen as a form of negligence.
This may sound like a harsh judgment, but the rules have long been in place, and are frequently updated, in order to prevent dangerous situations from developing during loading procedures. It only benefits employers to be sure that every single safety standard is known and followed, as they help to prevent all kinds of loading accidents.
However, there are scores of cases in which the basic safety standards were not imposed, and someone was hurt or even killed. If you have been injured in a loading accident of any kind, you must explore whether or not negligence led to the episode. After all, you may feel that someone on the crew was at fault for it, but your maritime lawyer may ask you if that person was properly trained for their work or if the gear they had was inspected and up to date. They will ask this because these things determine whether or not there was negligence at work.
Negligence manifests itself in many ways, and can be as simple as inadequate training for those given certain tasks, but it can include out of date or poorly maintained equipment, lack of safety standards, inadequate time off or downtime for workers that leads to fatigue, improper use of gear, and so much more. Though you might think you know whether or not some sort of negligence occurred, it is really the work of the experienced attorney to begin determining the facts.
There are several groups of laws in place for maritime workers involved in all kinds of accidents. The basic laws provide those injured with something known as maintenance and cure – which is compensation meant to help with medical expenses and the recovery process. However, there are also laws like the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act that indicate that workers (or their surviving dependents) are to be paid compensation if the accident was the result of negligence.
Naturally, there has to be proof of the negligence, and this is not something that a maritime worker is going to be able to easily prove. Instead, this is the work for a qualified maritime lawyer who has a thorough understanding of the many issues at work in a loading accident.
So, whether it was something like a crane accident or a gangway failure that caused you to be injured in a loading accident, don’t feel you have no recourse. Your injury or even the death of a loved one is basis for a claim against those who may have been negligent. Get in touch with an attorney if you feel you have a case.