The Longshore Act Claims
If you or a loved one have been injured in Beaumont, Galveston or Anywhere along the Gulf Coast, Call Carabin Shaw @ 1.800.862.1260. We can Help
Sometimes, an injury that the longshoreman, cargo surveyor, or dock worker may suffer from may be caused by negligence of the ship they were working on. In those circumstances, § 905(b) the Longshore Act allows a covered worker also being a lawsuit against a third-party vessel if that vessel’s negligence contributed to the injury or disability. This right to sue is in addition to the injured worker’s right to receive disability and medical payments. While it may seem straight forward and sound like common sense that a ship and its owner should be responsible for its negligence, in order to actually recover damages under a 905(b) claim it is important to know exactly what an injured worker must prove in order to prevail.
In 1981 the United States Supreme Court held in Scindia Steam Navigation Co., Ltd. v. Santos that vessel owners and operators owe specific duties to the workers who come onto their ships. First, a longshoremen or a dockworker may be able to recover against a ship-owner if they violate the turnover duty. Under the turnover duty, the ship-owner owes dock and harbor workers a duty to ensure that the ship does not contain a hidden danger, and that if there is such a hidden danger they will provide the worker with a warning. One example of this is the case of Kirksey v. P & O Ports Texas, Inc., where a stevedore working at the Port of Houston tragically had his leg crushed by improperly stored steel coils in the hold of the ship. The judge in that case found that the ship-owner had violated its turnover duty by failing to warn the injured plaintiff that the coils had become improperly stowed due to weather conditions.
The second duty that the ship-owner owes to the dock and harbor worker is called the active control duty. A dockworker may be able to recover damages for an injury sustained on a ship, if a ship-owner or operator fails to ensure that the operation or areas on the ship still within ship-owner’s control are not safe and that the dockworker’s injured is caused by this unsafe condition. In Ponce v. M/V Altair a longshoreman was fatally injured when he was hit by wire runner that broke free from boom due to a missing runner guide. The court held that the gear involved in the accident had remained under the control of the ship and that if the runner guide had been previously replaced the plaintiff’s death would not have occurred.
The third and final duty that a ship-owner owes to workers is called the duty to intervene. Under the duty to intervene, a ship-owner must intervene in dockworker’s activity if the ship-owner has actual knowledge of a danger or hazard that arises while the longshoreman or harbor worker is conducting their operations and that this hazard presents a substantial risk of harm to the worker.
It is also important to note that if the third-party ship-owner attempts to allege that the worker was also at fault this will not bar the worker from bringing suit against the ship-owner. However, if you do happen to recover from a negligent vessel, vessel owner, or vessel operator, then your employer may have a right to be reimbursed from any recovery you receive from the vessel if your employer has paid you disability and medical benefits under the Longshore Act.
If you have been injured anywhere on The Gulf Coast, call our Law Firm, with office in Beaumont, Galveston, Houston, Victoria, Rockport, Corpus Christi, the Valley and San Antonio we are here to help.