Despite ongoing supply chain issues and traffic disruptions due to COVID-19, Miami-Dade officials recently announced that PortMiami experienced its busiest cargo year in history for Fiscal Year 2021. A November press releasee pointed out that more than 1.25 million standard container units flowed through South Florida’s largest port from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021, representing a 17.6% increase over the previous year. Port officials were able to accomplish this feat without delays or vessel congestion, even with the added challenge of the PortMiami being the busiest in the world for passenger travel.
Of course, with this increase in port activity and potential for additional spikes, there is an associated rise in maritime accidents. Cargo ship crew, dock workers, crane operators, and other longshoremen are exposed to innumerable hazards in this environment, and working around water is just the tip of the iceberg. A Miami maritime injuries attorney can assist with the legal process if you were hurt, but a look at the types of trauma and overview of relevant laws may be helpful.
Common Injuries in the Maritime Work Environment
There can be dangers in any employment setting, but working around docks, cargo, mooring lines, motorized vehicles, and other heavy equipment put maritime workers at risk of serious injuries. The nature of the harm varies according to the position and job tasks, falling into three categories:
- Crane Operations: Defective equipment, failure to property train workers, and improper loading are often behind injuries to crane operators. These factors can lead to injuries from crushing, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Mooring Lines: Failure to comply with safety regulations can lead to trip injuries, but among the biggest threats to workers handling mooring lines falling overboard and drowning.
- Docks and Loading: Heavy cargo can become unbalanced due to improper handling, loading, and unloading, leading to accidents and injuries to dock workers. These individuals often suffer fractures, lacerations, TBI, and neck trauma, as well as the risk of burns from hazardous materials.
Overview of Maritime Injuries Laws in Florida
Accidents at ports and associated spaces are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), a statute that establishes a system for federal workers’ comp. While similar in some ways to Florida law, the LHWCA offers additional advantages to qualifying workers. For instance:
- If eligible, an injured worker can obtain benefits to pay for all medical treatment, including surgery, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and other care.
- You may qualify for payment of lost wages, at the rate of two-thirds your average weekly wages.
- For maritime workers who suffer a disabling medical condition, LHWCA pays disability benefits on a temporary or permanent basis.
- Death benefits are available for surviving family members.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Miami Maritime Injuries Lawyer
For more information on your options after suffering injuries in a maritime accident, please call (305) 371-6000 or go online to reach Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.