There are so many fatal accidents involving marine cargo handling, that the U.S. Department of Labor has an entire section of their website dedicated to them. (OSHA.gov, 2015) Industry statistics prove that people working in this industry endure more “sick days” than in any other industry because of the risks for and occurrences of accidents and resulting industries, as well. So, those who help to load cargo, unload it, secure it on board a ship, or bring it below decks before a voyage are actually doing some of the most challenging and dangerous work in the maritime industry.
Why is this the case? Just consider what marine cargo handling involves: cranes and cables, gangways and heavy equipment, and lots of human decision-making that might lead to trouble. This is one of the main reasons that groups like OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have so many rules around workplaces and industries such as marine cargo handling.
Even with all of their federal safety standards, OSHA cannot prevent the many cargo handling accidents that occur each year. When these things do occur, other laws and rules take over, and should someone be injured doing their work, and the accident is caused by negligence, they are promised the means of being compensated. The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are sets of laws that allow injured maritime workers a chance to seek compensation after injury, or after a loved one has been killed, as the result of negligence.
The first thing to do is to determine just why a marine cargo handling accident happened. Was it due to poorly maintained or inadequate equipment? Was it due to the fact that co-workers did not have the right training? Was it because there was a pace set by the employer that forced people to behave in a risky way?
There are so many ways that an accident may occur due to negligence, recognized by the maritime laws, as making the guilty parties financially liable. The key is to be able to demonstrate how an accident is the result of negligence, and to do this often takes the special skills of qualified maritime lawyers or legal experts. They can speak with you about the incident and help you to determine whether or not you should make a claim against those who appear to be negligent.
The federal laws indicate that you are able to seek everything from lost wages and the cost of your medical care to punitive damages or compensation for emotional pain. Disabilities are also considered when you are the victim of negligence.
Though it is a well-known fact, that those working in marine cargo handling are some of the most frequently injured people (sustaining fractures, back injuries, head injuries, and other less severe injuries while on the job), there is a difference between physically taxing and outright dangerous work. No one is supposed to accept deadly threats to their health or well being as part of the day-to-day work.
If you are injured doing your maritime job, or if you are the surviving dependent of someone killed in this line of work, you don’t have to settle for the explanations given by the employer. Find out whether or not negligence was a factor in the incident. If so, the laws guarantee you the right to pursue compensation from those who neglected to do their duty and who essentially caused the accident to occur.