It may be easy to assume that any time you are injured in Manhattan, the potential for assigning liability exists. Many come to us here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP with this mindset, only to be disappointed to learn that in order to pursue a claim, you must first have cause of action. While cause of action requirements can often be quite general, it is still helpful to understand the concept behind them in order to be sure in knowing if you do or do not have legal recourse in a certain situation.
Although employee safety is the key focus in America's maritime industry, countless New York workers suffer from serious accidents each year. Historically, the industry has come a long way, with a number of laws in effect that work to protect all workers at sea. The Longshore Act is one of these laws, and while it helps provide safety, it has also come with a number of complications along the way.
Many in Manhattan may perceive a career in the maritime industry to be filled with intrigue and adventure. What they may not know is that such work is also very dangerous. The unpredictability of the world's oceans and seas often put those who work on such waters at risk. Fortunately, maritime workers are protected from having to bear the brunt of expenses that may arise from workplace accidents by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
Whether it is a hot stove or heavy construction equipment, a large majority of industries pose some level of threat to employees. Even rush hour traffic presents some level of danger to the everyday nine-to-five New Yorker. Some industries, such as commercial fishing and other marine occupations, can threaten the lives of workers during each shift. Although jobs in the U.S. are reportedly getting safer, hazards can be an inherent part of this field of work.
Like most people in New York, you have likely heard references to workers' compensation. This is a special type of benefit that can provide financial benefits to people who experience injuries on on the job or perhaps who develop work-related illnesses. If you are one of the many people who works on a boat, ship or in some related areas, you may have access to benefits like these but you would not be covered under standard workers' compensation laws. Instead, your benefits would be pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
New Yorkers, like people everywhere, do not like to talk about it, but everyone needs to use the bathroom throughout the workday. If there are insufficient facilities for doing so or no means for washing one’s hands afterward, this lack causes some valid health concerns. Workers may feel silly bringing up the matter to a supervisor, but the health threat is real.
You were hurt on the job, and you need compensation to cover the cost of your injuries, including medical expenses from New York health care providers and lost wages from your absence at work. Workers' compensation does not cover you, but that does not mean you do not qualify for financial assistance. Depending on your duties, you may be eligible for damages under the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
After having been injured in a boating or maritime accident on Manhattan's docks or out the on the open water, your ultimate goal will likely be to return to work. Sadly, several of the clients that we here at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha LLP have worked with in the past have found that to be impossible. After all of the time you have dedicated to your career up to this point (coupled with the new physical limitations that now prevent you from returning to it), you may believe a career change to be impossible. However, there are resources available to help make that happen.
Longshoring in New York involves its own specific set of hazards. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has noted many of these through a collection of fatal material handling incident reports that may serve as risk assessment and prevention tools.
Longshoremen who work for the Port of New York and New Jersey may be used to the rushed pace and heavy workload involved in loading and unloading container ships. After all, it is the largest port complex on the East Coast. To continue to hold its own in global shipping markets, the Port Authority must now be able to accommodate the megaships that are taking their place in the industry.