What Rights Do Maritime Construction Workers Have In New York?
New York State construction workers generally have all the rights under the Labor Laws 200, 240 and 241 which generally means they have a right to work with safe equipment, have safe practices and procedures, work safely and not get hurt.
In case any of those rights were violated, the New York construction worker who has sustained a personal injury has a right to sue the general contractor and land owner of the project for compensation.
All New York construction workers also have the right under the general maritime law and the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act to get any benefits they were entitled to, and they would get a higher pay scale than they would under state workers compensation.
How Does Worker’s Comp Differ From The Jones Act, Longshore And Harbor Workers Compensation Act?
Under New York state compensation, a worker who was injured would be entitled to a certain limit which would be a much lower amount that could actually be recovered on a weekly basis. The federal compensation, which administered through the United States Department of Labor through the Office of Workers Compensation under the Longshore Harbor Worker Act, actually provides for much higher rates of compensation for the injured maritime construction worker in addition to payment for medical benefits.
The injured construction worker usually comes out better if they were under the Longshore Harbor Compensation Act, and really the difference between state worker’s comp and Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act claims would depend on the type of work the person was doing and where they were injured.
Someone who was injured in a building in New York state would be entitled to a state workers comp, whereas if they were on a bridge, dock or pier renovation project or working at the water’s edge, they would be covered under the Longshore Harbor Workers Act.
What Rights Would Someone Have Under The Jones Act?
Only sailors are eligible to sue under the Jones Act. These are workers who are considered “Jones Act seamen”, Merchant Marines, tug workers or “blue or brown water seamen” and even ferry workers, are covered under the Jones Act and the general maritime law. However, sailors are generally not covered under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
The general maritime law would also allows sailors to recover something called “Maintenance and Cure”. Maintenance would generally include the person’s living expenses while they were unable to work. The theory behind that is because sailors can be injured anywhere in the world, so it would be up to their employer to make sure they were provided for no matter where and when they got hurt.
They are also be entitled to something called Cure, which includes payments for medical treatmen and services rendered to an injured seaman to get them to “Maximum Medical Improvement”.
How Do Maritime Construction Laws Apply To The Tappan Zee Bridge Project?
The laws involving the Tappan Zee project are somewhat complex. They are now expecting this project to go on for another 3 years and they are building a completely new bridge alongside the old one.
Since it is such a large project, there are bound to be injuries and most of the workers who are on that project would qualify under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act. I am one of the few construction accident attorneys in New York who is familiar with these various maritime laws.
The types of possible injuries on this project include anything that could occur on any maritime project. There has been one incident so far involving contaminated drinking water which caused very severe illness.
Obviously anybody who is on this job site and who is performing the actual construction would be covered under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act, whereas the individuals who supply the job and who bring materials on the boats would probably be covered more under the Jones Act if they suffered an on the job injury.
There are a lot of cranes and barges out there, so really we could expect to see any kind of injury because it is such a large project. There may be injuries caused by construction workers being hit with materials that were being lowered, people getting hurt when they climbed down to do work, there may be accidents involving pile driving because of putting big piles down or people might even get hurt while they were climbing from one vessel to another or from a boat to a work platform.
Construction workers might even get hurt because they slipped due the lack of non-skid coating. There is a lot of iron work so there is obviously a lot of welding going on, and there might be cases where there was insufficient eye protection or other gear. All of these construction accidents are usually caused by violations of New York Labor Laws and our New York construction accident lawyers have extensive experience in representing maritime construction workers who suffer personal injuries and the families of those who suffer wrongful daeth.
A lot of these workers work 6/7 days a week with a lot of overtime, so although it is great money for them, it also it causes fatigue which certainly increases the number of injuries we might get to see.
The law for this particular project is somewhat complex because the owner of the project is the New York State Thruway Authority, so under the New York State Thruway Authority, all claims would have to be brought in the New York State Court of Claims which most lawyers are not really familiar with.
Everyone who hears that thinks they would have to file a notice of claims and sue in the Supreme Court.
The service provisions are a little unusual because the case would not only have to be filed with the state of New York, but also either a notice of claim and/or a notice of intent to make claim would have to be filed with the New York State Thruway Authority and also the attorney general under the court of claims act. However, cases against the general contractor, the Tappan Zee Contractors LLC, can be brought in New York State Supreme Court.
This is very different from a lot of the other public authorities where we would just have to file a notice of claim upon the public authority and then sue in the New York State Supreme Court.
If the case was not filed correctly, meaning the claimant was not careful to dot their I’s and cross their T’s, then they may not have a cause of action against the New York State Thruway Authority.
Basically construction worker who was injured on the Tappan Zee project would for the most part be entitled to federal workers compensation benefits under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act and then they would be able to sue under either or both the New York State Labor Laws and the general maritime law.
An injured maritime construction worker would certainly be able to file against the New York State Thruway Authority if they properly filed the claim or even against the owners of any of the vessels if the person was hurt on one of the vessels or barges under the general maritime law.
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