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Marine Construction Accidents And Federal Law

October 12, 2010

Our New York marine construction accident lawyers are thoroughly familiar with marine construction accidents. Accidents involving construction which happen on navigable waters often involve the interplay of New York’s labor law and the Federal Martime laws.

The Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides compensation to workers injured on navigable waters of the United States in the course of their employment. These benefits are usually higher than New York state workers compensation benefits.

Often marine construction in New York is performed with the worker working from the water on a float stage or work barge. In a 2010 decision, the Court held that New York’s labor laws are preempted by the Federal Maritime Law.

The practical result is that if a worker is standing on a barge or vessel at the time of the accident, he can only sue if he can establish negligence of the vessel, but he cannot sue under New York’s Labor Law. So the seminal question becomes whether the platform was a vessel.

A vessel includes every description of water-craft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water. However, floating structures that are “not practically capable of being used as a means of transportation” do not qualify as vessels.

Analyzing whether a platform is a vessel requires expert analysis from a New York maritime construction lawyer.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph