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New York Maritime Law Blog

Future maritime professionals help in Amazon rainforest

If you are employed as a maritime worker, you have most likely heard of SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx. This venerable institution has been training future maritime professionals for nearly a century and a half. They offer students undergraduate and graduate programs in several forms of marine engineering, maritime transportation and marine environmental science.

Two students of the Marine Environmental Science program, Isaul Villaneuva and Mustafa Islam, recently got to experience what their future careers may entail – they spent time in the Amazon rainforest assisting in efforts to study and protect the diverse ecosystem.

Injuries while working on a fish processing vessel

In the commercial fishing industry, workers perform a number of roles and those who make a living in this industry know that job responsibilities can be very demanding. Those who are employed on a fish processing vessel, for example, may be hurt on the job in a variety of ways. Furthermore, the consequences of these injuries can shatter someone's life in many ways as well. Aside from the financial repercussions, emotional trauma, lifelong disabilities and finding a new career are some other hardships people go through. Moreover, it is especially upsetting to know that some of these incidents were caused by another person's negligent act.

Working on a fish processing vessel can be tough for countless reasons. Spending long amounts of time away from loved ones, standing for long periods of time and working in a potentially dangerous environment are just some of the hazards that workers in this industry may encounter every day. Unfortunately, some people are hurt or even killed in accidents that happen because of someone's reckless behavior, such as the use of an intoxicating substance on the job. Or, people may be hurt because their employer failed to take proper precautionary measures. Either way, it can be very upsetting to know that an injury one sustained on the job was preventable.

The controversy around the Jones Act

Many people in New York may be aware that there are laws governing maritime passage and commerce in U.S. waterways. One of these is called the Jones Act or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. At nearly a century old, this law today has its share of both supporters and opponents. People in the former category herald the law as an important element in supporting American jobs and national security. People in the latter category suggest the law should be done away with. 

At its core, the Jones Act bans any ship from transporting goods between domestic ports unless it meets certain criteria. As explained by NBC News, this includes being owned by an American citizen, being staffed with crew members who are American citizens or permanent residents only and being built on U.S. soil. Some exceptions may be made as was done after Hurricane Maria in order to allow more aid to be brought into Puerto Rico but that lifting of the ban was short-lived.

Fatal fall into St. Lawrence Seaway still under investigation

An accident that resulted in the death of a 57-year-old Canadian man early Tuesday morning when he fell from a dock into the Saint Lawrence Seaway while trying to tie off the Canadian bulk carrier upon which he worked is currently under investigation by New York state authorities.

The accident happened at the Eisenhower Locks, near the community of Massena, New York. The inbound bulk carrier, known as the Spruceglen, had to wait for another vessel to clear the locks before entering. The crew of the Spruceglen hoisted the man to the dock in order to tie off the vessel as it waited its turn. However, upon reaching the dock, the man lost his balance and fell into the water. 

It is difficult to understand being lost at sea

According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 1,500 people died in a marine accident in 2017. Historically, this is a low number, and for maritime employees, deaths aboard freighters and other ships total less than 100. Instead, most deaths occurred on passenger ships.

The threat and consequences of death at sea remain obvious if you work on board a ship, but the perils of being lost at sea could seem even more abstract. No one is even quite sure how many people are lost at sea each year because the definition remains broad and the people out of touch.

Maintenance and cure benefits for repetitive stress injuries

Like any job in Manhattan, your work in the maritime industry requires you to do several repetitive tasks. The stress that such tasks place on your body can result in injuries over time. Such injuries may require treatment in order for you to perform daily tasks (much less perform the functions of your job). Even though the causes of such injuries are work-related, many still come to us here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP wondering whether the nature of such injuries disqualifies them from being covered by maintenance and cure benefits. 

Per the Cornell University Law School, the maintenance and cure benefits offered under The Jones Act are meant to cover injuries that occur while at sea. Typically, most associate those injuries with those that arise from accidents, as those are the incidents that most believe cause the worst injuries. Repetitive stress injuries, however, can be equally as devastating as any suffered in an accident. Common types include: 

  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Rotator cuff and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis (joint inflammation)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursa that cushions joints)
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons in the joints)
  • Tenosynovitis (inflammation of the sheaths covering tendons)

Light failure leads to late-night boating accident

A typical recreational boating excursion is usually spent with family and friends. Those who choose to go out on an acquaintance's boat likely do so trusting that the boat owner has ensured that the craft is safe, and that said owner will also do everything necessary to ensure each passengers' safety while out on the water. It is for this reason why Manhattan residents may be reluctant to pursue action in the wake of a boating accident. No one wants to have to try and hold a friend legally accountable for an accident, yet oftentimes the expenses that can arise from it leave them with little choice. 

Recreational boating accidents can easily produce devastating results. This fact was clearly apparent in the case of recent incident in Minnesota. Four people were out on a lake at a local national park in the late-night hours when their boat struck the tip of an island. The boat involved featured a cuddy-cabin, in which two female passengers were located when the accident occurred. One of the women sustained serious injuries, while the other escaped harm. The driver of the boat and the fourth passenger also suffered minor injuries. 

What you need to know abut the Jones Act

New York is one of this country’s major ports and as such, numerous New Yorkers work in the shipping industry in some capacity. If they contract an illness or suffer an injury during their employment, the Jones Act provides the method for them to recover their medical costs, lost wages and daily living expenses from their employer, even if they were not on board their ship at the time of their accident or the onset of their illness.

The Legal Information Institute explains that the Jones Act is a 1920 federal statute whose original purpose was to provide support for merchant mariners. It likewise, however, makes the Federal Employer’s Liability Act available to seamen working on commercial and military vessels. These seamen can file personal injury suits against their employers in state or federal court.

The dangers to ships from animal vessel strikes

Ships of all shapes and sizes have the potential to encounter marine life. Everything from small fish to whales collide with moving watercraft.

These collisions can have a devastating impact on both animals and people onboard. People have been thrown overboard, injured or even killed by these collisions. But what can ships do to avoid these encounters?

Does an occupational disease qualify for benefits from the LHWCA?

As a longshoreman or harbor worker, you work long hours in less-than-ideal conditions. Yet, you love working with your hands and being outside on the water. You are not the type of person who could sit behind a desk all day. You enjoy your job, but there is no denying your work is physically demanding and puts you at risk for injury.

Working in this environment often causes injuries, but sometimes injuries are not immediately apparent. You could have an occupational disease.

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