Those who work in dredging understand that it can be a highly dangerous job. Whether it is operating a suction system, a crane, or you are part of the crew managing the mechanical systems that support dredging operations, there are serious threats to your health and safety at all times. The owners of the machinery, or the employers who pay you to do your work, are always responsible for your safety, as well as the maintenance and functions of the vessels and gear.
Yet, they can fail to meet their obligations and this often leads to many different kinds of dredger accidents. For instance, dredgers are meant to keep waterways open and navigable, and they are also put to use in commercial fishing, such as clamming operations. Dredgers are even used in law enforcement to seek or collect evidence. A wide range of operators uses this equipment, and if there is a failure to inspect and maintain any part of the gear, it can easily mean trouble. (KHOU.com, 2014)
If you work in the maritime industry and have been involved in a dredging accident, you may be feeling a bit confused about your next steps. After all, you may feel that as someone who knowingly works in a challenging industry it may be a given that injuries or accidents will occur, and you must assume the responsibility for the outcome. This, however, is inaccurate. There are laws that require owners of vessels and employers to ensure safety at all times.
While there are no guarantees – after all, storms, operator failure, mechanical problems, and a host of other issues can all play into the creation of a dredger accident – no one must accept injuries on the job as a condition of employment. Federal and industry safety guidelines have been created to overcome many of the issues that can lead to trouble. And, should an accident occur, there are maritime laws like the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation program to guarantee that workers injured due to negligence of another party will be properly compensated.
The first thing to do when you are injured in a dredging accident (or a loved one has sustained an injury, disability or has died due to the accident) is to meet with a knowledgeable maritime lawyer. They can review the entire issue.
They are going to look at elements such as, the training of employees, the gear and safety standards provided or followed, the amount of time or hours workers had put in when the accident happened, whether or not the equipment in use was maintained and functioning properly, and much more. There are many ways that negligence can be identified, and, should there be proof that this was the trigger for the accident; you can work with the lawyer to pursue legal compensation.
Keep in mind, that you won’t want to attempt this on your own because the burden of proof is on the employee. A vessel owner, employer, or other third party is most likely going to attempt to reduce their liability. They will not often agree immediately if you discover that they were negligent, and so a lawyer is the smartest “first step” in obtaining the compensation that is yours under maritime law.
Working with dredging equipment is risky and often dangerous. This negligence should not be tolerated. Your safety, and that of those you work with, should be the priority of the individuals who own or operate the firm. Your maritime lawyer can help you prove if negligence led to an accident that should have never occurred.