There are really only a few ways you might get on or off a ship. Gangways, ladders, steps, and platforms are the most common. Yet, there are statistics indicating that scores of maritime workers are injured when using them each year (MarineInsight, 2014). This could be due to a long list of reasons, but if those reasons involve negligence, the people injured are due compensation beyond simple maintenance and cure.
In other words, if you are a maritime worker who was injured in a gangway or other boarding accident, you will want to speak with a knowledgeable maritime lawyer, to understand if you can file a claim against the vessel owner, employer, or fellow crewmembers at fault.
Though the maritime industry is, without doubt, among the most challenging and dangerous in the world, it does not mean that anyone working in this field has to simply accept a higher level of risk. For example, climbing a ladder from one vessel to another is, admittedly, dangerous, but it does not have to be a true risk to one’s health or life. There are many federal and industry safety standards that would apply to boarding situations of this kind, and if they are ignored, there is most definitely liability involved.
For example, it is a risk to use a gangway, but not so great a risk if all of the safety precautions and guidelines are followed. If, however, these things are ignored, it can make a basic gangway a tremendous threat. If the crew is not properly trained in using or securing it, if the equipment is out of date or not up to safety standards, if any part of it is left unsecured, if the crew uses the gangway in an improper way, and if the gangway or dock is not maintained, it indicates negligence. Should anyone be injured on such a gangway, under maritime law they are due compensation.
Obviously, there are so many subtleties, and so many ways that things might be explained or argued that it is essential to work with an expert in maritime law if you are going to make a claim. For instance, crewmembers that failed to follow protocols may be identified as being at fault (or it might be noted as human error), but were these people properly trained? Did they have adequate down time or were they forced to work extensive numbers of hours? What was the condition of the gear they used?
You can see that a case of what many might try to label as human error, could just as easily have been avoided if it were not for the role played by the employer or vessel owner. At such times, it is possible that a gangway or boarding accident was due to negligence, and this would provide those injured with further compensation than maintenance and cure.
Whether you’ve sustained an injury or disability due to a ladder, gangway or step accident, or you are the surviving dependent of a loved one killed in an accident of this kind, the maritime laws do offer you some protection. Before any incidents, there are OSHA regulations and industry safety standards that must be followed, and after an accident there are rules such as the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act that provide victims of negligence with the right to claim compensation.
Your maritime lawyer will be able to help you understand if your gangway or boarding accident allows you compensation from those responsible. Be sure to speak with them as soon as possible in order to take the right legal action.