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Examining expense coverage for dry dock injuries

When referring to “maritime injuries,” most likely assume those to be injuries sustained by crew members while at sea. Yet vessels are not always at sea (or even in the water, for that matter). As many of those that we here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP have worked with can confirm, there are almost as many dangers associated with ships on land as there are when those same ships are at sea. Your interactions with ships on land are most likely to occur on dry docks. The question then becomes whether federal maritime regulations protect offer the same employee protections when a ship is in a dry dock. 

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is designed to offer protections to those employed in the fulfilling the mission of a vessel. You are included in this group if you work on the vessel itself, or are employed doing longshore work, repairs, shipbuilding or ship-breaking. Because the Act covers longshore workers, its coverage area extends beyond navigable waters. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, that area includes adjoining piers, wharfs, terminals, building ways, marine railways, or any other adjoining area used for the loading, unloading, repair, building or dismantling of a ship. This would of course include dry docks. 

Some of the more common accidents associated with dry docks include: 

  • Fires started by the flammable materials often used in the construction and repair of ships
  • Loading accidents caused by crane failures or other equipment issues
  • Slips and falls due to equipment or wet surfaces inside the dock itself

You may be eligible for compensation under the Longshore Act even if you are employed by a third party contractor hired to build, repair or maintain a ship. More information of maritime worker rights can be found here on our site. 

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