The port industry is a vital part of our nation’s economy, moving billions of dollars’ worth of goods into and out of our country annually. It takes thousands of hardworking, dedicated workers to move this vast amount of cargo through ports, however, and people who make their living in this industry are at a substantial risk of harm, due to the nature of the work that they perform. Longshoremen and harbor workers who spend their working hours loading and unloading cargo from docked ships may be particularly vulnerable to serious injuries.
Representation by a maritime law attorney may be vital to protect the legal rights of longshoremen who are hurt on the job. Our skillful attorneys can guide injured workers through the legal process and ensure that their rights are fully asserted.
If you were hurt while working as a harbor worker or longshoreman in Florida, get help recovering the financial compensation available to you. Reach out to our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys by calling Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369. Our team of experienced lawyers can review your case for free.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
When an accident happens during the loading or unloading of cargo from a vessel, a longshoreman or harbor worker who is employed by the stevedore company will usually be limited to benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, found at 33 U.S.C. §§ 901–950 (also known as the “Longshoremen’s Act” or the “LHWCA”). Just as with state workers’ compensation laws, the “exclusive remedy” of an injured worker against their employer is that of workers’ compensation. Under the Longshoremen’s Act, an “employee” is defined as any person who is engaged in maritime employment, including not only longshoremen but also harbor workers, such as ship repairmen, shipbuilders, and ship-breakers. The term specifically does not include clerical workers, people employed by restaurants or retail outlets, people who work at marinas in activities other than routine maintenance, crew members, and certain other people who are covered under state workers’ compensation laws.
Suing for Longshoreman or Harbor Worker Injuries
The Longshoremen’s Act provides for the payment of benefits for the disability or death of an employee caused by injuries that occurred upon the navigable waters of the United States, or on a pier or another adjoining area that is customarily used in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel. Depending upon the nature and extent of the injury or illness suffered by the employee, they may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, and medical benefits. If an employee is killed, their family may be entitled to death benefits. Although an employer may not defend a Longshoremen’s Act case by denying that it was negligent or otherwise at fault, a worker’s claim may be defeated if it is proven that the sole cause of their injury was intoxication or a willful intent to injure or kill themselves or another person.
Although the Longshoremen’s Act limits the employee’s relief against the employer to the benefits stated above, there are some instances in which an employee may be able to pursue additional claims. This may happen when a third party that is not an “employer” under the Act contributed to the accident, such as the owner or operator of a vessel where a longshoreman or harbor worker was injured. In this situation, the Longshoremen’s Act provides for a third-party action for negligence. This means that more generous damages may be available, such as pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and possibly even a loss of consortium claim filed by the injured employee’s spouse.
A third-party negligence action requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant against which compensation is sought owed them a duty of care and breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a proximate result. For instance, if a worker goes on board a vessel when it is at port to perform repairs or other functions, the worker may be able to assert a negligence action against the vessel’s owner if the owner’s failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner causes an injury. If the limited connection to the particular vessel involves work typical of that performed by seamen, there are situations in which the worker may be classified as a seaman (even though they are not a “Jones Act” seaman) and obtain rights similar to a seaman, even if the connection with the vessel is temporary. If the worker is successful in a third-party negligence lawsuit, it is likely that the employer or carrier that paid benefits to the longshoreman or harbor worker will assert a lien against the proceeds of the settlement or judgment.
Common Injuries Suffered by Harbor Workers and Longshoremen in Florida
Longshoremen and harbor workers spend their days loading and unloading heavy cargo from docked ships. Accordingly, on-the-job accidents can lead to serious injuries. Our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys can help pursue compensation related to any of the following injuries:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most common types of injuries suffered by harbor workers and longshoremen in Florida. Such injuries are often caused by slip and fall accidents that occur on docks. However, workers can also sustain spinal cord damage while pulling, pushing, or lifting heavy objects.
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries can incur a wide range of harmful symptoms. In severe cases, victims may experience severe immobility or even total paralysis. Therefore, such injuries can produce negative impacts on victims’ abilities to work and enjoy their lives. Fortunately, harbor workers and longshoremen can pursue payment for spinal cord injuries they suffer on the job.
Broken bones are another common injury suffered by harbor workers and longshoremen. These injuries can be highly painful and debilitating. In especially serious cases, such as those involving compound fractures and crush injuries, victims may require surgical treatment. Many harbor workers and longshoremen who sustain broken bones will be prevented from returning to work while they recover. Fortunately, if you suffered broken bones as a maritime worker, our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys can help recover damages for the lost wages you sustained.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are also a common type of harm suffered by harbor workers and longshoremen in Florida. These injuries involve damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments anywhere in the body. Harbor workers and longshoremen regularly suffer soft tissue injuries while handling heavy loads of cargo. However, these injuries can also stem from slip and fall accidents, on-the-job vehicle accidents, and accidents caused by defective products.
Like broken bones, injuries to soft tissue can be highly debilitating and painful. If you suffered soft tissue injuries while working as a harbor worker or longshoreman in Florida, you should contact our lawyers right away. During your free case review, our experienced attorneys can help determine the proper course of action.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Furthermore, harbor workers and longshoremen who suffer on-the-job accidents can also incur traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are a very serious type of harm that is usually caused by external blows to the head. For example, strikes from falling objects, slip and fall accidents, and on-the-job vehicle accidents are all potential sources of traumatic brain injuries.
These injuries can lead to a wide array of harmful symptoms. In addition to suffering various economic damages, those with traumatic brain injuries can experience a great deal of non-economic harm. For example, a longshoreman with a traumatic brain injury may be unable to partake in the same hobbies and activities that they enjoyed before their workplace accident. Still, non-economic damages will only be available to injured workers under specific circumstances. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury because of an on-the-job accident, our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys can help fight for the full range of monetary damages available to you.
Burns are one of the most physically painful types of injuries suffered by harbor workers and longshoremen in Florida. Victims can incur burn injuries because they were in close proximity to fires and explosions that occurred at work. However, harbor workers and longshoremen can also suffer burns because they contacted hot liquids, hot metals, and dangerous chemicals during the course of their employment.
Burns can take a long time to heal. Furthermore, in severe cases, those who suffer burns may require skin grafting procedures during their recovery. Our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys can help victims with burn injuries take the appropriate steps toward compensation.
Harbor workers and longshoremen can also incur occupational illnesses after being exposed to toxic chemicals. Long-term exposure to dangerous substances can lead to the development of severe illnesses like Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, and other forms of cancer. If you developed illnesses because of exposure to harmful chemical while working as a longshoreman or harbor worker, you may be entitled to payment for the harm you incurred. Our experienced attorneys can help build your case and navigate the complex road to recovery.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are another common type of harm suffered by longshoremen and harbor workers. These types of injuries typically occur because of long-term repetitive movement and overuse of muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. In other words, repetitive stress injuries usually do not result from singular accidents. Rather, they are caused by years of working on assembly lines, pulling cables, loading or unloading cargo, among other repetitive duties.
There is a wide range of repetitive stress injuries that can be suffered by maritime workers. Tendonitis, bursitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and tennis elbow are all examples of repetitive stress injuries that can occur. These injuries are often highly painful and can lead to serious immobility. If you suffered repetitive stress injuries while working as a longshoremen or harbor worker, you may be entitled to monetary damages.
Lastly, internal injuries are also a common type of harm suffered by harbor workers and longshoremen in Florida. These injuries can involve internal bleeding and damage to internal organs. Workers often suffer internal injuries after sustaining some form of blunt force trauma. Slip and fall accidents, defective product accidents, and on-the-job vehicle accidents are all potential sources of internal injuries.
These injuries can lead to severe and even fatal symptoms. However, internal injuries may not become painful until days after a workplace accident. If you believe you may have suffered internal injuries because of an accident at work, you should seek medical attention right away. Our Florida harbor worker and longshoreman injury claim attorneys can help refer the right doctors for you.
Maritime Law Attorneys Serving Victims in Miami and Other Florida Ports
Many cargo ships travel all around the United States and the world. Regardless of where an accident occurred, there may be a basis for a lawsuit to be filed in the state of Florida or elsewhere in the U.S., depending on the contacts that the vessel owner or operator has with the U.S. The Miami longshoreman injury attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. can help you explore your legal options. Call us at (305) 204-5369 or contact us online for a free appointment to discuss your case with a Florida boat accident attorney today. We represent victims in Miami, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Jacksonville, Tampa, Key West, Brevard County, and throughout the Florida Panhandle, as well as other areas along the coastline of Florida and other states.