Every year, many seamen are injured while handling unsafe cargo on a vessel or while off loading cargo or product from a vessel. Cargo handling accidents may happen at sea or in the process of loading and unloading on a dock or pier. An injury occurring in the process of handling cargo may be compensable under the Jones Act or general maritime law.Representing Clients Injured in Cargo Handling Accidents
Under the Jones Act, an employer has a duty to provide a safe work place. Cargo that is not properly stacked and collapses, cargo that is too heavy for a seaman to lift, inadequate assistance in lifting heavy cargo, the failure to use mechanized equipment, conveyor belts that are unsafe, unsafe forklifts, negligent operation of a crane, and repetitive lifting during off-loading of vessels can all result in serious injuries that impact a seaman for life. Because we have experience representing seamen in many cargo handling injuries, we bring our knowledge base to a case and we're ready to aggressively prosecute your claim.No-Fault Maritime Remedies:
Under general maritime law, a seaman injured during the service of the vessel is entitled to maintenance, cure, and unearned wages regardless of whether or not the employer is at-fault for the injury. Maintenance is a daily stipend designed to pay for a seaman's expenses while recovering from an injury. The maintenance rate may be set by a seaman's contract with the seaman's employer or it may be set by the seaman's expenses. Medical cure is the cost incurred by the seaman for medical bills. An employer has a duty to pay for a medical expenses incurred from injuries or illnesses that manifest while in the service of the vessel. Finally, a vessel owner must pay an injured or sick seaman his or her normal wages or contracted pay until the end of the voyage or his or her contract period. Under maritime law, the vessel owner's obligation to pay wages until the end of the voyage is called "unearned wages."Fault-Based Maritime Remedies:
In addition to no-fault remedies, a seaman may recover damages for lost wages until the seaman is able to return to work, damages for pain and suffering, damages for loss of enjoyment of life, damages for disfigurement, and other "general damages" if the seaman can demonstrate that his employer was negligent or the vessel was unseaworthy. A seaman may also be able to recover other economic damages if the seaman is unable to return to work or must transition into a lower paying line of work due to an injury. A Jones Act employer may be negligent in a number of ways in the context of cargo handling operations: failure to furnish a safe place to work; failure to follow safety regulations; unsafe conveyor belts; unsafe cranes and crane practices; unsafe forklifts; unsafe operation of unloading equipment; cargo that is too heavy; exposure of workers to freezing or unreasonably hot conditions; and work on slippery or icy decks.
Under the general maritime law, a vessel is unseaworthy when any equipment on the vessel is not fit for its ordinary and intended use. Examples of unseaworthy conditions in the context of unloading operations may include: cargo that is not properly stacked; unsafe cargo handling procedures; unsafe forklifts; unsafe conveyor belts; unsafe methods of operation; unsafe or slippery decks; unsafe use of cranes; and inexperienced or improperly trained crew.Cargo Injuries on a Pier or Dock.
If a cargo handling incident did not occur on a ship, but rather on a dock, premises liability or other legal remedies may provide a path to compensation by the injured worker. In this case, the ship's owners may be found to be negligent, or a cause of action may exist against the company unloading the vessel or the owners of the pier or dock. Our Seattle maritime lawyers conduct an exhaustive investigation into the causes of injuries and deaths to determine the cause of your accident.
Case Example: Our law firm obtained a seven-figure settlement for a commercial truck driver who suffered an amputation of his leg at a port in Seattle when a load of large pipes was dropped during the unloading of his semi-truck trailer. Our investigation demonstrated that the employees of the company unloading the truck failed to follow established safety procedures when they unloaded the truck without making certain that pipes were secured properly and without checking to make certain that all persons were out of the zone of danger.
For best results after a serious or catastrophic injury involving cargo handling on a ship, port, or dock, contact an experienced maritime law and personal injury law attorney promptly. An early investigation holds the most promise for determining the actual chain of events that led to a cargo handling accident and securing statements from witnesses regarding the facts of the incident. Kraft Davies, PLLC, has years of experience and a track record of favorable outcomes on behalf of injured cargo handlers in the Pacific Northwest, Washington, and Alaska. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Seattle cargo handling accident lawyers.
At Kraft Davies, PLLC, we carefully screen every personal injury case to ensure that we devote our resources to the clients who most urgently need our services. This selective approach allows us to provide personalized attention to our clients and focused attention on each case.Representing Injured Seamen in King County, Washington
When our attorneys accept a cargo injury case, we prepare every case to allow us to obtain the best results at trial. We look carefully at the cause of the injury and consult with the best engineering and cargo experts in the country. Whether the injury was caused by defective equipment, an unsafe condition, or negligence, we will conduct a complete investigation that considers all the facts and finds accountability for your injury. When you hire our firm, we know the best experts in the field and you gain the expertise of a team of experts in a variety of disciplines.Contact Our Washington and Alaska Cargo Handling Injury Lawyers
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced cargo injury attorney regarding a case that involves cargo handling injuries, injuries to seamen, injuries to dock or longshore workers, maritime law, admiralty law or personal injury, please contact us or call 206.624.8844 for a free initial consultation.