Anyone who works on a cargo vessel understands the ease in which struck-by vehicle accidents can occur. This is why OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has created safety standards and requirements for the laying out of specific travel lanes on board cargo craft.
Known as traffic lanes and personnel safety zones, these are actual roadways that must be mapped out on cargo vessels in order to keep people safe. OSHA itself indicates that, “Employers should take measures to ensure a safe work environment by providing traffic lanes and personnel safety zones. The traffic lanes and personnel safety zones should be clearly marked, and wide enough to protect longshore workers, accommodate the equipment being used…” (OSHA.gov, 2015)
The lanes are supposed to be able to accommodate any support vehicles used in the day-to-day work, but also designed to prevent drivers from crossing into oncoming lanes or to approach too closely to the people working on the ground. After all, most of the struck-by vehicle accidents in the maritime setting occur when a worker is signaling, working on foot, or “coning”. The creation of lanes on board ships guarantees that drivers have the best chances of avoiding collisions or accidents with other vehicles or workers.
Does this system keep people safe? Yes and no. There are still all kinds of struck-by vehicle accidents each year. These accidents can be due to a long list of possible causes, including the negligence of a supervisor or employer to properly train or monitor a situation. The vessel owners may also fail to create clearly indicated lanes or lanes that meet the safety standards, and in all such cases they could be faulted for negligence.
If you are a longshore worker or a maritime employee harmed in a struck-by vehicle accident (or the surviving dependent of someone killed in such an incident), you should know that there are extensive laws that are designed to provide you with compensation. Laws such as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, among other laws, have been created to give you a method for pursuing compensation.
The emphasis of these laws, though, is that you are given the burden of proof. In other words, you have to prove that negligence of some kind led to the struck-by vehicle accident and the injury, disability, or death. This is not work for someone unfamiliar with the law, and is a primary reason to work directly with a maritime lawyer as soon as possible.
In fact, people who work cargo ships or in almost any area of the maritime industry are well advised to have the name and contact number for a qualified attorney of this kind on hand. This will allow you, or your family, to get in touch with expert help as soon as possible after an incident.
As can be expected, few people liable for accidents are going to willingly or freely admit to their own negligence. This may be something that requires a legal expert to accomplish, and this is why it is to your benefit to work with an attorney as soon as you can.
The laws say that you are due compensation if you’ve suffered an injury or loss because of the negligence of a vessel owner, employer, or other party. It is difficult to prove these things unless you know the laws, and getting in touch with a maritime lawyer is going to be the best way to get the compensation that is yours under the law.