Do Specific Laws Govern Maritime Construction Accidents?
The laws which govern maritime construction accidents are extremely complex, which is why a New York City maritime lawyer should be called whenever there is any type of construction accident.
The type of law that applied would depend on the worker’s status, what they were doing and where they were, and it would actually also depend on what happened, meaning whether there were just injuries or death.
For example, the first law that applies in the maritime context is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This basically applies to anybody who was working over the water or who was performing a traditional maritime construction activity such as pier replacement, pier renovation, dock building, dock demolition or demolitions of maritime structures.
All of these activities would generally be covered if the worker had both the status of being a maritime construction worker and the situs if they were working on the water or over the water and then got hurt.
OSHA laws do not necessarily give a cause of action or a right to cause of action but they would still apply in the construction context as general standards of safety. Determining what applied to a particular case would really just depend on the nature of the work being done.
Do Most Lawyers Know About These Laws?
A lot of New York state lawyers do not know these things because they think that it would come under New York state workers comp any time someone got hurt on the job, whereas these programs, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, are actually administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Worker’s compensation. They typically allow much higher benefits in terms of wages than New York state compensation laws do.
They allow or obligate the employer to provide medical coverage and pay the medical benefits for an injured maritime construction employee, which is one portion of the law that would apply.
Do The New York Labor Laws Apply To Maritime Construction Accidents?
The other laws that would also apply are the New York state Labor Laws. In addition to the employer, under the New York state Labor Laws, a maritime construction worker could sue under Labor Law 200, 240 or 241.
These generally have different components but 240 tends to involve the height differential. A lot of accidents happen when workers climb down sheeting and then fall because they do not have the proper ladders hung or lifelines hooked up for them to safely climb up and down sheeting in order for them to get down to the water to do their work. We see a lot of the Labor Law 240 violations there.
Additionally, there are a lot of regulations under 241(6) whereby a whole variety of construction accidents should be prevented. These regulations include everything from drinking good water on the site to proper eye protection when doing things like drilling, flame-cutting or welding.
There are also regulations regarding slippery surfaces, which ties into the requirement to have non-skid coatings on maritime surfaces. There are regulations for stability and all kinds of crane regulations, including regulations on lifting and lowering equipment with a tagline so they do not swing even if they are on a barge crane.
There are even excavation regulations, so really and regulations that govern construction on the land would also govern construction at the water’s edge.
The other rule that applies under the labor law is Labor Law 200, which would generally give a cause of action for a dangerous condition on a work site. It is important to know or realize that a lot of the floating barges that are not motorized do not really qualify as vessels if they are just kept in place and used as work sites alongside the water’s edge, however, it may be covered by the Jones Act if the barge was constantly moving about.
How Does The Jones Act Apply To Maritime Accidents?
In addition, anyone who is a regular member of a crew, meaning they worked on a boat, would be covered under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is an action that allows an employee to sue their employer and the vessel owner for any types of negligence. General maritime law would also apply in this case, which would allow the vessel owner to be sued for any type of dangerous condition.
Generally, in a lot of these cases there is about a 33 percent rule, meaning that the worker has to be on a vessel in navigation on navigable waters more than a 3rd of the time. We often see workers who are, for example, running man outs at barges in the middle of the ocean or running man outs at workstations in the middle of a lake or river. Since they have to constantly provide transportation, they would fall under the Jones Act.
Likewise, workers who are on boats that supply or bring supplies in and out of maritime work areas, such as a bridge or other project, would also usually be covered under the Jones Act. There is a lot of that kind of activity going on right now in the Hudson River with the Tappan Zee bridge construction project.
Which Law Covers Someone Who Died In Navigable Waters?
Also, if someone died on navigable waters because of a construction accident, for example they fell off because they did not have the proper lines or something happened that caused a death, then in that case, they would be covered under the “Death on High Seas Act”, or what is commonly called DOSHA.
This means the families or dependants of the person who suffered a wrongful death on any navigable water would be able to bring a cause of action or bring a lawsuit to recover their financial loss caused by that person’s death. The Jones Act would still be there to cover the pre-death pain and suffering of the individual who had been killed.
This was just a rundown of the different types of maritime construction accidents that typically occur and the various laws that apply to them.
For more information on Laws Applying To Maritime Construction Accidents, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (877) 580- 6636 today.