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Stevedores and Longshoremen

The Mobile maritime injury attorneys at Tobias, McCormick & Comer have extensive experience representing longshoremen and stevedores who were injured during the course of their employment. We have handled numerous cases on behalf of injured longshoremen, including a longshoreman who was injured in an explosion while working on a vessel, a crane operator who was injured when a vessel toppled his crane and a longshoreman who was crushed by a propeller that dropped while the vessel was in dry dock.

Because of their status as longshoremen, certain laws are applicable that are different than the law applicable to workers who qualify as seamen. That’s why it is important to contact a Mobile maritime injury lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured while working as a longshoreman or stevedore.

Claim of a Stevedore Against a Third Party - 933(a)

The Longshore and Harbor Worker Compensation Act is a federal worker’s compensation statute which awards benefits to persons injured while helping to build large ships on or near federal navigable waters. See Stewart v. Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U.S. 481, 125 S.Ct. 1118, 1123, 160 L.Ed.2d 932 (2005) (LHWCA “provides scheduled compensation to land-based maritime workers”); Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp. v. Garris, 532 U.S. 811, 818, 121 S.Ct. 1927, 150 L.Ed.2d 34 (2001) (LHWCA “provides nonseaman maritime workers … with no-fault workers’ compensation claims”); 33 U.S.C. § 903 (“compensation shall be payable under this chapter in respect of disability or death of an employee, but only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing dismantling, or building a vessel).”).

LHWCA provides that a person who receives LHWCA benefits cannot sue his employer for damages related to his on-the-job injury. See 33 U.S.C. § 905(a) (“[t]he liability of an employer prescribed in section 904 of this title shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the employee ….”); id. at 933(i) (“[t]he right to compensation or benefits under this chapter shall be the exclusive remedy to an employee when he is injured … by the negligence or wrong of any other person or persons in the same employ: Provided, that this provision shall not affect the liability of a person other than an officer or employee of the employer.”). As with most worker’s compensation statues, the guarantee of benefits from the employer under LHWCA replaces the possibility of receiving from the employer damages under state law.

Although an injured employee who receives LHWCA benefits cannot sue his employer for damages related to his injury, LHWCA further provides that the employee can still sue a third party that contributed to his injury. 33 U.S.C. § 933 (titled “Compensation for injuries where third persons are liable”).

If the third party is a maritime entity or “vessel,” as that term is defined by LHWCA, then LHWCA provides that the employee may bring a third party cause of action against the vessel based on negligence. In such a case, “the employer shall not be liable to the vessel for such damages directly or indirectly”. 33 U.S.C. 905(b). The general maritime law will apply to this claim. If, on the other hand, the third party defendant is a “non-maritime” entity, state substantive law governs the claims. Ruth v. A.O. Smith Corp. , 416 F.Supp. 2d 584 (N.D. Ohio 2006).

Please contact Tobias, McCormick & Comer if you or a loved one has been injured or killed working as a longshoreman. We are maritime injury lawyers in the Mobile area who are familiar with the applicable law and are able to assist you.

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